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Baekdal Plus

Strategic insight and analysis for people in the media industry


Fascinating Traffic Experiments by Publishers

Tue, 6 Feb 2018 18:20:00 GMT

Last week, I came across two very interesting traffic experiments, which are worth talking about. One was about how a publisher tried to increase the volume of posts on YouTube, and the other was about a publisher who decided to see what happened if they stopped using Facebook.Both are very interesting, so let's look at what happened with each and what the result was.We will start with this:Fstoppers tried going for volume on YouTubeFstoppers is a site for photographers that I have admired for many years, and that I have used as an example of a brilliant editorial strategy.In 2015, I wrote "Drop The Content Strategy, Create A Care Strategy Instead", where Fstoppers was mentioned as a site that did this really well. In June 2017, I mentioned them in "What is the Best Monetization / Subscription Model?" and, last August, they were also mentioned in "Can Your Readers Trust You With Their Time?"You can probably spot a trend here. Fstoppers is a publisher who is really good at creating very high-value paid-for content that is worth people's time. And the way they earn most of their money is through very high-end tutorial series that you have to buy.Like this one (price: $299): class="video" title="video" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="">The problem with high-value sites like this, however, is that the high-value doesn't necessarily create a lot of traffic, and, as a publisher, you start to get antsy about growth.This happened to Fstoppers as well. They already have a successful business, but they started wondering if they could just post more to grow more.The result was that, a month ago, Fstoppers posted a video called "The Future of Fstoppers" where they announced this new publishing strategy.For the next 30 days we are going to be releasing a new video every single day. If this month is a success, we will be focusing on producing more free content in 2018. class="video" title="video" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="">In other words, they would try to replace high-value with frequency. The videos would still be very good (they were not posting viral content), but it wouldn't be as in-depth, or as planned as their usual content.So... what happened? Did this work?Well, the month of January is now over and they have published another video where they go into what happened. class="video" title="video" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="">This video is worth watching by itself, but let me summarize it.The first thing they discovered was that the higher frequency boosted the engagement throughout their site and on YouTube. had the highest level of traffic, the highest time on site and the most engagement ... ever!This is great, but when they looked into their analytics, they found that most of this boost wasn't actually coming from these new, extra videos per day, but from other content posted by their community.So, these extra videos seemed to have boosted the activity of the site, but they didn't actually contribute to it by themselves.This is fascinating because it gives us an 'unknown'. We don't really know if this actually worked or not, because the measurable impact was almost non-existent, while the total effect was the best ever. But it also hints to the 'trend of presence'.I have talked about this before. Presence is often a very big part of the effect that you can have, in that, if you can be present in people's minds, you often experience a kind of spillover effect on your business as a whole.This is not just true for content, but also everything else ... like advertising. We know that creating an ad campaign where you show up in front of people continually over time is far more effective than just having one good ad.So, was what we saw here part of the 'trend of presence'?As a media analyst, I don't know from the data that I have. It may simply have been coincidental in that maybe some of the community content was so good that it worked all by [...]

A Guide to Pricing Strategies for a Sport Site

Wed, 24 Jan 2018 16:48:01 GMT

The digital world has opened up many new ways of defining your publishing model and one of the clearest examples of this is when we look at sports sites.

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Facebook may not be the Right Market for Publishers, but it is for Facebook

Wed, 17 Jan 2018 04:34:40 GMT

It has been almost a week since Facebook told publishers that they were no longer a key element of its future strategy, and the outburst of articles about this has been ... eh... interesting to read.There have been some good observations, like when Wolfgang Blau, President of Condé Nast International, wrote about the importance of China for Facebook. That was a great observation.There was also the very important observation made by Joshua Benton (and others) that people, generally, don't actually use Facebook for news ... and when they do, it's mostly accidental.About 75 percent of users reporting seeing either just 1 news story in their top 10 News Feed posts or none at all.But, we have also seen quite a large number of very frustrated people in the media industry, which is understandable. This has led to some very strange articles where the journalists don't seem to be actually looking at any of the trends.For instance, The Verge wrote that "Facebook's startling new ambition is to shrink" ... uh... nope. There is absolutely nothing about Facebook's new plans that are about shrinking. It's quite the opposite.A number of journalists are claiming that Facebook's new plan to favor friends' interactions will increase the problem with fake news. But while this might have been true in the past, this new change is different.And there have also been journalists/editors saying that Facebook should be required to include news because of their position in the market ... which doesn't really make any sense once you realize what Facebook is about.So let me offer three different aspects to this story that will encourage you to think about what's happening on Facebook in a different way.And we will start with this:The problem is not Facebook, it's consumptionOne of the biggest frustrations I have as a media analyst, about how publishers talk about Facebook, is that we focus on the traffic but not the audience.I'm reminded here of a tweet that Casey Newton posted last week saying this:He is exactly right about this. Facebook has been pretty big in terms of driving traffic, but it's not very good at driving an audience.But the problem here isn't really about Facebook, it's about the market that Facebook is in.Facebook is a channel that people turn to when they have a quick break and just want to see something random. In other words (as I have talked about for about five years), Facebook is in the market for low-intent micro-moments.We see this very clearly when we compare how people use YouTube with how they use Facebook. On YouTube, you go to your 'subscription page' where you look at what the people you follow have posted ... and then you pick the specific videos that you want to see, which you then watch for maybe 20 minutes at a time.That's a deep relationship.On Facebook, because they have filled our NewsFeed with so much extra content, you are forced into a consumption model where you have no way to pick anything... so you just stop doing it.And because of this, Facebook is extremely 'niche' when it comes to what works and what doesn't work on Facebook.For instance, business publications learned a long time ago that Facebook is not the platform for them. Because low-intent is the opposite of what a business reader is looking for.Facebook is also terrible for building up valuable momentum. For instance, you can't use Facebook to teach people anything.You can do that on YouTube with no problem, in fact, many young people define YouTube as a 'learning channel'. According to Ofcom's "Children and Parents: Media Use and Attitudes Report", about 40% of all young people use YouTube for watching tutorials, DIYs, walkthroughs and other 'learning' content.Nobody talks about Facebook that way.And this is where we come to news, because think about what type of impact this has on news coverage. What type of news consumption do you get when you mix a low-intent micro-moment, with an emphasis on just reacting, and where you can't go deep?The answer is obvious.You get exactly the type of out[...]

Redefining how we Talk About and Categorize the Media

Tue, 16 Jan 2018 14:09:08 GMT

We are moving into a new era of media where the old definition of 'the media' no longer makes any sense, both in terms of who is what and in terms of how we define the editorial strategies and monetization models.

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There is so Much Positivity in the Digital World of Media

Tue, 9 Jan 2018 09:53:09 GMT

If you have been reading Baekdal Plus for couple of years, you might have noticed an increasing level of frustration about traditional publishers compared to digital native publishers.This frustration is not based on dislike. I love traditional media companies, and there is nothing I want more than to see them become massively successful in the future.My frustration, however, is that, within many traditional companies, there is a kind of media bubble that is preventing meaningful change from happening, along with a growing sense of despair that is leading to an ever more negative editorial focus.At the same time, I'm working with the digital native publishers, and here everything is different. The focus is generally much more optimistic, it's entrepreneurial, and forward looking.Let me give you an example:In traditional media, I constantly come across negative articles like this one.The problem here isn't that the news isn't important (it is). What Logan Paul did was extremely idiotic. Instead, the problem is with the framing and overall negativity.Try reading this article, and you are left feeling like the world is shit and we should all just be depressed about it.This is the kind of content that I see every single day from traditional media. It's like watching a wall of negative stories.But then I turn to digital native channels, like YouTube, and here I am presented with videos like those below.Please do me a favor. Please watch all of them in full. And just notice the level of excitement and positivity that you feel from them. class="video" title="video" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""> class="video" title="video" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""> class="video" title="video" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""> class="video" title="video" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""> class="video" title="video" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""> class="video" title="video" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="">This is just a small sample, but isn't this amazing?The difference between the old traditional world and the new YouTuber world is incredible. The traditional world makes me sad and depressed, while the YouTuber world lifts me back up again.We also see this difference in the way things are being talked about and reported, and it makes traditional journalists appear reactive, while digital natives appear proactive.Many traditional journalists only write about things that have already happened, like when a YouTuber has done something wrong or when a politician is saying something idiotic. In other words, they are 'reacting' to the world.Many YouTubers, however, have a proactive editorial profile. They are not talking about things that have already happened, but are instead inviting people to join them in exploring what will happen.A simple example is to compare this article from The Washington Post:To the video I showed you earlier from Fully Charged reporting about the progress and the future of renewable energy.The former is reactive and negative while the latter is proactive and positive.At this point, you might be thinking that I'm being ridiculous, and that I am cherry picking examples so as to make old media look worse than it really is.And you are kind of right. I am doing exactly that, but this is also not the point. Because let me show you something.My frustration around traditional media's editorial focus about is how it has grown increasingly negative over the years. In the 1990s, when I would read my morning newspaper, I didn't consider it to be either positive or negative. The stories covered each day helped me get informed about the world, and since I read all of them 'as a package[...]

Why do YouTubers Hate Journalists, and Should Publishers Pay Their Sources?

Tue, 2 Jan 2018 18:57:54 GMT

There was an interesting discussion on Twitter the other day about whether publishers should pay their sources. And when I say 'interesting', I mean a lot of antagonized mudslinging.But, from the perspective of media trends, the topic illustrated a number of fascinating things about how the world of media has changed.It all started with this tweet from tech/culture reporter Taylor Lorenz from The Daily Beast.This initial tweet then sparked a very emotional discussion with journalists basically telling YouTubers that they were idiots.And it got really bad when Taylor, later that day, tweeted an example. She wrote this:As you can see, at this point it's no longer about getting paid or not. Now it's suddenly about a journalist attacking someone who is an extremist, and the result was that the alt-right community got in on it, and from this point it all went down the drain.By the end of the day, Taylor had received both rape and death threats, and basically had become a target of an alt-right campaign.This, of course, is completely unacceptable. Nobody should be facing harassment like this regardless of what they tweeted, but it also distorted the discussion in ways that make this whole thing rather pointless.So let's take a step back and talk about this as a concept instead. Let's ignore these specific tweets and just talk about the role of media in relation to YouTubers.First, let's talk about the negative press.The fight between the old and the newOne of the really big problems that exists today between journalists and YouTubers is that the former is often only looking at the bad side of things.For instance, throughout 2017, many major newspaper focused their attention on finding obscure examples of extremism on YouTube, trying to turn this into a much bigger scandal than what it really is.Let me give an example of this. Here is a quote from one of many articles about YouTube and Facebook from 2017:Facebook has admitted that it found about $100,000 in ad spending from June 2015 to May 2017 on the platform connected to inauthentic accounts that likely operated out of Russia. Google too faced loads of backlash after brands realized their advertising was appearing alongside racist and extremist videos on YouTube and other sites, thereby marking them as supporters of hate.The problem here is twofold.First, this narrative does not in any way represent reality. While the story is technically true, when you report that someone spent $100,000 on fake news ads on Facebook, this accounts for 0.000015% of Facebook's total revenue.Basically, this is like going into a big supermarket in a very big mall and then you discover one package of pasta that is past its sell-by date. Is that acceptable? No, of course not. But it also doesn't represent what the supermarket is about.It's the same thing on YouTube. YouTubers are incredibly angry at the traditional journalism industry because of how we have misrepresented what is really going on with YouTube.If you read the stories in the traditional press, you are led to assume that YouTube is a site similar to 4Chan, with its massive alt-right community and hate speech. But YouTube is nothing like this.Sure, you can always find examples of hate speech or racism on YouTube, but you really have to look for it. Normal people almost never see it.The result of this is that the media has been damaging the perception of ordinary YouTubers, through no fault of most YouTubers. And YouTube has then in turn made some serious errors in the way it tried to fix the problem, which has resulted in blocking content that should never have been blocked.One example of this is EnterElysium. He is a Let's Player who produces very family-friendly and brand-safe videos. Like this one: class="video" title="video" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="">But in 2017, this happened to him:Yep, some of his videos were demonetized (temporaril[...]

The Digital Publishers' Guide to Growth

Tue, 2 Jan 2018 13:10:30 GMT

Growth is something every publisher wants, but there is often a problem with how we approach it. Most publishers focus on the wrong type of growth, leading to wasted efforts that fundamentally don't change anything.

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The Media Trends to Care about in 2018-2023

Wed, 13 Dec 2017 13:46:19 GMT

Every new year, people start writing about what they predict will happen in the next year. I used to do this as well, but this time I want to do something different.

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When Opinion Becomes Legislative Facts

Tue, 5 Dec 2017 09:34:50 GMT

This article is slightly different from my normal articles in that it isn't about a problem that's specifically in the media, but a problem that impacts our society as a whole, which we (in the media), play a part in.The problem is how opinions become legislative facts, and how we in the media help that process along in the way that we report things.Let me explain what I mean.One of the biggest mistakes that we made as a society when we invented democracy, was that we allowed politicians to turn opinions into law, without the need for empirical evidence.We see this every day.A group of politicians starts to believe that something is a problem, maybe because of an article they read, or someone they spoke to, and then they get enough votes to create a law about it. And suddenly everyone else has to believe in that too (or at least abide by it), because otherwise you would be breaking the law.The result is incredibly damaging, because we end up with a society where 'reality' is a deception, and where our legislation is formed based on assumptions that often aren't true.This in itself is a big concern, but the fundamental problem is that we have a very poor sense of reality to begin with. You see this very clearly every single time you do a study that compares 'what people think' to 'what really happens'.So, we have this incredibly poor sense of reality, and if we then allow this to decide our legislative future, we end up with a society that constantly works against itself.This is a massive problem, and this is where the media comes in... or at least, it should be where we come in. Our role should be to protect society from the harm caused by people with inaccurate opinions, but instead we often see the opposite.In the media, we often facilitate the spread of inaccurate opinions, we even promote it with editorials and featured opinion pieces. And we allow the opinions to have as much weight as the actual facts.On top of this, we ignore how people behave online, with the result that inaccurate opinion pieces gain far more traffic than the fact-checks, simply because of the way we structure our editorial output.Let me give you an example of how this often plays out.Right now in my country (Denmark), we see this happening in relation to cheating in schools and the debate around that.What is happening is this:#1: Getting the wrong baselineA research agency asked school examiners how much cheating they think is happening, without asking for any proof or any data. The result was that 33% of the examiners thought cheating occurred, and of those, most thought that cheating was done by 3-5% of the student population. Some examiners thought as many as 10% were cheating.Remember, none of this is based on facts. This is merely based on their opinion.#2: Politicians mistake the result for facts The next thing that happened is a politician saw this report, and in their populistic focus took these numbers as facts and decided that this is a really big problem that needs to be fixed.#3: The media...The media then reports it like this:And I quote from the article:It is apparent from the study that the young people are thought to cheat using 'non-digital aids and unauthorized use of network connection, which the school has made available during the exam'.It is obviously very difficult to clarify exactly how many cheat. But it is not only a fraction of a percent. It is a substantial proportion of the students, "says the minister, based on the investigation to Berlingske.So now this is presented as a fact, and we have focused on the specific problem being 'unauthorized use of network connection', which is a 'substantial problem' that now needs to be fixed.#4 The public is misinformedThe combination of this study, the statement of the minister, the exposure, and the way it is reported by the press, results in the public being mis[...]

A Guide to Journalists Thinking about Starting an Individual Media Company

Mon, 4 Dec 2017 12:57:48 GMT

One of the emerging media trends is that many journalists are thinking about starting their own individual media companies, to create their own channels and get monetized directly.

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The Burger Emoji: A First-Hand Analysis of The Media Coverage

Tue, 21 Nov 2017 13:18:14 GMT

A couple of weeks ago, I found myself in the middle of a real tweetstorm that turned into a media storm: I posted a (from my perspective), very innocent tweet encouraging the discussion of why Apple's and Google's burger emoji look different. The result was viral craziness that even impacted the way the media covered US political events.In a previous article, we discussed what the tweet was about, how the Twitterverse responded to it, and why it worked. If you haven't read this already, I encourage you to do so first to get a better sense of what this article is all about, because all of that happened before many traditional media outlets became part of the picture.In this article, we will look at this from a media analyst perspective. How did the media react to it? How was it covered? What were the mistakes? And what can we learn from the perspective of media analysis?But let me very quickly summarize what happened (more details are in the first article).On a lazy Saturday evening, on October 28th, I was having a small discussion with a friend of mine, Ana Milicevic, about the different looks of emojis between platforms, and I happened to see the burger emoji.So I tweeted this:At the time I didn't think much of it, so after tweeting I watched some Netflix and then I went to bed. But when I woke the next morning, the world seemed to have gone crazy.Thanks to several very high-profile retweets, like when the actor Stephen Fry (with 12.5M followers) retweeted it, as well as thousands of individuals adding their own voice, the tweet reached 2 million views, 14,200 likes, 7,600 retweets, and 830 replies, after only 24 hours.And today, as I'm writing this two weeks later, we have reached 8.5 million views, 50,000 likes, 25,000 retweets, and a staggering 2,200 replies.This by itself was amazing, but it didn't really effect the media until Google's CEO, Sundar Pichai, joined in on the fun:Suddenly this innocent tweet about an emoji turned into a media phenomenon. A huge number of newspapers, online sites, and magazines started covering it.And it wasn't just a few publications. It was pretty much everywhere. Here is a small sample of the newspapers and magazines which wrote about it:Time Magazine: Google's CEO Just Promised to 'Drop Everything' to Fix its Cheeseburger EmojiCNN: Google CEO addresses hamburger emoji debateABC News: Google CEO Sundar Pichai promises to 'drop everything else' to address hamburger emoji debateUSA Today: Google CEO promises to 'drop everything' to fix wonky cheeseburger emojiFox News: Google CEO to fix burger emoji after heated debate cooks up on TwitterWashington Post: Google challenged the world to agree on its burger emoji's cheese placement. The world failed.Wall Street Journal: That Emoji Burger Is High in PhaticNY Post: Google CEO: I will 'drop everything' to fix burger emojiBBC: Google 'drops everything' to fix burger emojiMetro UK: Google boss vows to 'drop everything' to solve firm's burger emoji shameThe Verge: Google CEO makes fixing hamburger emoji his top priorityRT: Burger bummer: Google CEO promises to 'drop everything' to address urgent emoji issueHuffington Post: Google's Cheeseburger Emoji Has One MAJOR FlawThe Sun: Google boss vows to 'drop everything' to solve glaring burger emoji error - can you spot the mistake?Mail Online: Google CEO says company will 'DROP EVERYTHING' on Monday to fix the glaring error on its cheeseburger emoji...but can you tell what it is?The Independent: Google CEO promises to 'drop everything' and solve controversial burger emoji issueInc.: Google's Hamburger Emoji Was Apparently Created by Someone Who Never Ate OneNasdaq: CEO Sundar Pichai to Fix Google Cheeseburger Emoji ASAPBusiness Insider: People are furiously debating the correct placement of cheese in the burger emoji9to5Mac: Sund[...]

The Media Perspective on Burger Emoji: An Unexpected Analysis

Tue, 21 Nov 2017 13:17:22 GMT

It's been a couple of weeks since the world went crazy over a tweet about a burger emoji which happened to be posted by yours truly.At the time, several of my readers urged me to write an article about it, but I wanted to wait until I had some data to work with. Now that I do have some data, let's take a look at this whole thing from the perspective of a media analyst.There was a lot to unpack here, and perhaps somewhat ironically a single tweet among friends will now result in two deep-dive articles.In this first article, we will take a look at the tweet itself, what actually happened, how the Twitterverse responded to it, and why it worked and spread as quickly as it did.Then, in the second article, we will look at this from a media perspective. How did the media react to it? How was it covered? What were some common mistakes? And what can we learn from the perspective of media analysis?But first, let's talk about the tweet itself.What burger emoji?For those of you who have no clue what this is about, let me very quickly summarize.On the evening of October 28th, I was having a small discussion about emojis with a friend of mine, Ana Milicevic. She started the whole thing by tweeting about a recent design revamp of WhatsApp's emoji to which I replied "If only they could agree on how an emoji should look instead of everyone creating their own", linking to Emojipedia as an example.The strange thing about emoji is that, while the concept has been standardized, the way an emoji actually looks is up to each platform to decide.This has led to many really weird variations. Take the 'crocodile emoji'.Apple's emoji looks like almost photorealistic clipart (or what we would call skeuomorphic). Google's emoji looks like something you would find in Microsoft Word's clipart library... but then look at Samsung and Twitter, which look more like cute dinosaurs, or maybe they've been designed by someone who has only heard of crocodiles but never seen one.This is the crazy reality of emoji.So, while I was having a very run-of-the-mill conversation with Ana, I happened to come across the burger emoji. And here I noticed that Apple's burger emoji placed cheese on the top of the patty, while Google places it underneath.So, I tweeted this:Then I went on with my evening, had dinner, watched some Netflix, and went to bed.The next morning, I woke up to a world that had gone positively mad.About a million people had seen my tweet thanks to several very high-profile retweets, like when the actor Stephen Fry (with 12.5M followers) retweeted it, and thousands of people kept amplifying it during the day.This alone was pretty spectacular, but then the burger tweet somehow made its way to the Twitter feed of Google's CEO Sundar Pichai who joined in on the fun by tweeting this:These amplifications from high-profile accounts pushed our burger tweets into a whole new category of engagement. Here is a short video of what my Twitter notification stream looked like.24 hours after I had initially posted and thought nothing of it, the tweet, had reached 2 million views, 14,200 likes, 7,600 retweets, and 830 people had posted a reply to me. 12 hours after that, it had gone up to 4.4 million views.And today, as I'm writing this two weeks later, we have reached 8.5 million views, 50,000 likes, 25,000 retweets, and a staggering 2,200 replies.It has also boosted my Twitter followers by 15%: from about 9,900 before the tweet to 11,400 followers today.This was just remarkable.And, one of the most interesting virtual-to-real world effects came a couple of days later, when Google's cafeteria employees created the Android 'emoji' burger in real life.But why did it work so well?Making things go viral isn't really about the contentThe interesting thing about viral content is [...]

The Elusive Direct Relationship with Your Readers

Thu, 16 Nov 2017 19:26:59 GMT

The internet was supposed to solve one big problem. It was meant to eliminate the gatekeepers and allow everyone from everywhere to connect directly together.And for a while this was how the internet worked... but then came 'the platforms'.The result is that, today, one of the most persistent trends in the digital space is how hard it is to get people to connect with publishers directly, because people are spending less and less time deciding what to see.The number of choices people have has created a form of 'choice paralysis', where it's getting almost impossible to make people say: I choose to read you! And we also see that those who come to us from other channels (like Facebook) have a much lower level of loyalty than ever before. The intent just isn't there.The platforms that are all around us have been exceptionally efficient in convincing people not to care about what they look at, in exchange for an endless stream of low-intent content snacking.Meanwhile, another trend very clearly tells us that the loyalty for those who do connect directly is many times higher.The result of this is a difficult but important challenge, because this means that it's getting more and more important to convince our readers to connect with us directly, but it's getting harder and harder to actually get them to do so.So, what can we do about this?Well, the answer to this is the same as always. Focus on creating that all-important direct connection. This has not changed. It's just 10 times harder to do than ever before...But let's look into that some more.The supermarketI have already written many times about how the internet platforms have become 'supermarkets' (here is an article from 2014). It's a perfect analogy for what is happening today, and I will summarise it briefly here.A supermarket is somewhere you can very conveniently get everything you need in just one place, but it's also somewhere you mostly only get the things you don't really care about.And you see this very clearly when you look at the type of products that you find in a supermarket. Almost all of them are products that you wouldn't be able to sell in an exclusive store.For instance, you wouldn't go to a paper towel store, or a shampoo store, or a store that only sells tomatoes or spaghetti.You still need to buy these products, and you want them to be good, but they are just not important enough for you to dedicate your time to. In other words, they are all low-intent products that you just want to get efficiently.Online we see the same effect.Facebook is the classic supermarket in that it's a place where you can find everything, and everyone has a need for consuming content every day. But you don't actually connect with anything, instead you just pick out content as quickly as possible.Here is one example. Do you remember the brand of spaghetti you purchased the last time you went to the supermarket?I don't...and I don't really care. I just remember that it was whole grain organic spaghetti. I don't care if it's made by one company or the other, because they are all the same anyway.This is like Facebook. Do I remember what publisher published the last link I clicked on? Nope!I just remember that it was something that caught my interest. In fact, as I'm writing this, I cannot even remember what the last link was about.This is what supermarkets do. They eliminate the need to think, which is why they are so effective at dominating public consumption.In comparison, the way we behave when we have a specific need is entirely different. And here is an example of that:About a month ago, I bought new vacuum cleaners. So how did I do that?Well, if I didn't really care about what I got, I could have just gone to my local supermarket and picked up somethi[...]

The Problem with Digital Economics is that the Potential is Different

Wed, 8 Nov 2017 11:03:25 GMT

Let's talk about money, or specifically the revenue potential for publishers transitioning to a digital only future.

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Preparing to Win the Future

Thu, 26 Oct 2017 06:31:10 GMT

I want to show you something fascinating that publishers can learn a lot about.Imagine that you are a big oil company and you start to see that the future is going to change. What do you do?Some companies try to fight the change, lobby governments and elect a president who wants to make coal great again. But that clearly is a stupid thing to do, because the future doesn't care what you want.In the case oil and coal, the future trend of renewable energy promised a cleaner, more flexible and a cheaper future, and because of that it simply doesn't matter how much you want coal or oil to exist.So what do you if you are a big oil company? The answer is that 'you become the future'.Let me give you a couple highly inspiring examples.First of all is Ørsted, which used to be called Dong Energy. This is Denmark's largest energy provider, and it used be run on natural gas and oil. But now it has redefined its future focus on being the leader in renewable energy.And just take a look at this video. It's absolutely wonderful: class="video" title="video" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="">But it's not just Ørsted that is doing this. Another big oil company is the Norwegian Statoil (meaning 'state oil'), who is now spearheading the future of massive floating windmills. class="video" title="video" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="">The amazing thing about these windmills is that we can place them anywhere we like ... like in the middle of the ocean and out of sight of any people.Or what about this fancy thing I came across over at Twitter:This looks like a normal petrol filling station from Shell, but it's not. Instead, it's an electric car recharging station. Because, obviously, the future is not going to be about filling up people's cars with petrol anymore.Note: For those interested, here is a behind the scenes video of what Robert saw that day, .What's really impressive is when we start to look at this on a countrywide scale, and again, here we have to look at Norway.Norway is a very rich country because of its oil, but instead of using all that oil itself, it has decided to just export it to other countries, and then use all that money to make Norway the most modern country in the world.We see this very clearly when we look at the adoption of electric cars. Norway is miles ahead of everyone else. In 2016, Norway had 21.5 registered plug-in cars per 1,000 people ... which is more than 14 times than in the US.Here is a great video by VOX that explains it all: class="video" title="video" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="">Some people think it's a bit pathetic that Norway is basically creating a modern sustainable society using money from oil, but that's the wrong way to think about it.Because what Norway is really doing is to spend all the money from the old world, to make sure that they come out as the winner of the new world.When everyone else finally starts to realize what needs to be done, Norway will already be there.And remember the examples I showed you earlier about Statoil and their amazing floating windmills? This too are currently being partly subsidized by exactly the same wealth fund.So, even when all the oil runs out, Norway will own the future of renewable wind generation.It's brilliant!The media?Now, why am I telling you all this?The reason is that this is a perfect example of how old companies prepare for and wins the future. And it's something that is severely lacking in the media industry.Think back to the Ørsted example I started out with. This used to be an oil company, but no[...]

The Gender Trap with Media on Social Channels

Tue, 24 Oct 2017 13:34:43 GMT

Longtime readers will know that I often test my social channels to see how relevant they are to me.For instance, at the start of 2017, I did a gender test for who I was following on Twitter, where I found that I was following far more men than women. This was not a conscious decision, it just happened that way because, in the media, the culture is kind of male-dominated.In January I was following 55% men, 21% women, and 25% companies.This is not acceptable to me, so I set out to change this, and with the help of a lot of brilliant people, we put together a list of amazing women that are worth following, and today my gender split on Twitter looks like this:Yes, I'm now following more women than men, and the result is absolutely wonderful. This diverse input really helps me to see things in a better way, and I encourage everyone to do the same thing.Go through your own Twitter follows, count the number of men and the number of women, see what the gender split is for you, and fix it.More problems with LinkedInNow, last weekend I took a renewed interest in LinkedIn, but it has an even bigger problem than Twitter. Because of a wonderful post by my friend Avinash Kaushik, I suddenly got quite a number of new followers, and I started wondering what gender split I had on that channel.LinkedIn to me has always been a bit of problem for three reasons.Two-way friendingFirst of all, LinkedIn's two-way friending system means that most of the people that LinkedIn claims that I follow, aren't actually people that I know. Instead, it's people who might have come across one of my articles, and who then decided to connect with me.I love connecting with my readers, but I don't love having my personal news feed filled up with posts about a million things that I have no interest in.The way I use social media is that everyone I follow must provide me with something relevant. You can see this on Twitter, for instance. Here I personally follow only 444 people, all specifically picked because they give me information that I need.On LinkedIn, however, what I found was that, since most of the people I followed were people I didn't know, my news feed was filled with posts that had no interest for me. This is the main reason why I rarely (if ever) use LinkedIn.Too much noiseAnother problem is that LinkedIn has made the same mistake as every other social channel by adding a ton of posts to my newsfeed about things that other people did, but didn't share.These are posts where you will see this:[person] liked this[person] commented on this[person] is now connected withAll of these are posts where someone you know had an interaction with someone else (that you don't know). But they are not sharing that interaction, they are just having that interaction.The result of this is a massive number of posts in your news feed that have almost no value to you. It's just noise.Job focusedThe third problem is LinkedIn's history of being a social channel for job seekers.I have been fortunate enough to never have needed to look for a job, and, as such, LinkedIn's job and networking focus has never had any use for me.And these three problems combined meant that LinkedIn was never appealing or useful to me.But now that Twitter's future is looking a bit sketchy (I don't think it will actually fail, but you never know), I'm starting to think about LinkedIn again. Maybe I should take it more seriously?To do this, however, I need to find a way to tame LinkedIn, and to somehow get rid of all this noise. So, I looked at all the people LinkedIn claimed that I was following, and I was quite shocked by the result, especially when it came to gender.Mind the (gender) gap!If we [...]

The Trend of Voice as the New UI for Publishers

Mon, 23 Oct 2017 11:06:56 GMT

'Voice' is a format that publishers are talking more and more about. Well... at least in the few countries where you can actually buy voice-enabled devices.

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I Dream of a Newspaper Without Politics

Tue, 17 Oct 2017 20:07:38 GMT

One of the reasons I became a media analyst is because I love the media (although it might not always seem that way when I write about the bad parts). But being a media analyst can be exceptionally frustrating, because I often see publishers doing things that go directly against the long-term trends.When I see a newspaper intentionally mislead their readers with their headlines; post stories before they have any idea whether something is news or not; when they start to promote pundit opinion over facts; when I see media companies start to place auto-playing videos with sound; or when they add seriously bad content recommendation sites to their pages; all of these things just make me cringe.We all know that the only reason these things are happening is because of the financial reality of news, and from a trend perspective, it's like watching the entire industry collectively shoot themselves in the foot.Today, however, I'm going to illustrate another concern of mine that specifically applies to national newspapers, and mostly those in the US. It's not unique to the US, but the problem is much stronger there than in most other countries.The problem is with their focus on politics.I'm going to start by showing you a little comparison of how much has changed in the media between September 25, 2013 (when Obama was president) and September 25, 2017.Note: The only reason for that specific date is because that was when I took these screenshots. There is nothing special about this day.What I have done with the screenshots below, is that I have removed all the ads, as well as the stories linked to political coverage, leaving only the non-political stories. And in 2013, this was how the Washington Post looked:As you can see, even without any of the political stories, there are still plenty of things to see. Obviously, there are always day-to-day nuances, but what you see here is a good all-round newspaper.Of course, with good, I don't necessarily mean financially sound. This was just a month before Jeff Bezos took over, and back then the Washington Post wasn't doing very well.But now we fast forward to 2017, and we see this:Notice how the entire front page of the Washington Post is now almost entirely blank. All those blank spots are political news coverage, and it has completely taken over WaPo.Mind you, I'm not saying political stories aren't important. In fact, because of the absolute mess that has defined the US political system for quite a while, this news might be more important than ever.But think about what this does to the WaPo brand, and why people read it. People are no longer subscribing to them because they are a newspaper. They come because of the political madness.In many ways, what we see here is that the role of a national newspaper is shifting away from being a generalized package of news to become a kind of political niche vertical.I would venture as far to say that the Washington Post today has more in common with Politico than the traditional definition of a newspaper. And I'm seeing the same thing with many other national newspapers.And from a financial perspective, it seems to work (at least right now). The latest figure I saw from the Washington Post was that it has now reached 1 million paid digital subscribers, which is just wonderful.But, also, this whole thing makes me anxious. So, let's talk about some of the potential problems this creates.A little bit of everythingIf you have been following me, you would know I have often spoken out against the concept of publishers just doing 'a little bit of everything'. The reason being is that, one of the str[...]

Publishers, You Need 'What Should Happen Next?' Analytics

Tue, 10 Oct 2017 12:51:17 GMT

If you have been following Baekdal Plus for a while, you will know that I often talk about the next generation of analytics, like learning analytics, predictive analytics, scored analytics and so forth.

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Data that looks like it means something, but doesn't

Wed, 27 Sep 2017 14:45:29 GMT

Over the past many months, I have seen tons of articles in the media about how Facebook and Google aren't entirely accurate when it comes to selling audiences to advertisers. Articles like how Facebook claims to reach more than the total population of the US, how Google is now refunding advertisers because of fake traffic, and many other articles like them (which is not unique to them).As a media analyst, I obviously agree that these things aren't acceptable but from a technical perspective, I can understand why they happen. For instance, the reason Facebook has more US accounts than there are US people isn't entirely surprising. And the same with Google, who had allowed sites to be monetized by advertising without first verifying they were providing value to brands.This is obviously a problem and it needs to be fixed.But, every time I read an article about these things, I'm constantly reminded that we, in the media industry, aren't really doing a good job either. So when journalists complain about the metrics on Google and Facebook, it's kind of a fake outrage, because our own metrics are often even worse.So, in this article, I'm going to do two things.First, I'm going to illustrate a number of very common problems with advertising metrics that I see in the media industry every day. Metrics that, in many ways, are worse than those we see on the tech platforms.My second point is that, when I look at the trends, I see that media is losing the advertising market. And the main reason this is happening is because what we tell advertisers isn't really that good. I have some suggestions for improvements!My hope is that this article will make you think, and encourage you to change the way you, as publishers, sell your advertising. Because if you want to beat Google and Facebook, you either have to offer brands something that the tech platforms can't do, or give advertisers better metrics so that they have a better understanding of exactly what value you bring.Today, publishers are terrible at this, so let's change that!Common metrics that are completely bogus Let's look at five very common problems with metrics that we see in the media industry every day.Giving them nothingThe first metric is kind of a weird one, because it's the 'no metric'.One thing I often see with publishers, is that many still believe that they somehow control the market, and because of that think they don't have to prove their worth.One example of this is what we see with the New York Times. If you go to their site, scroll down to the bottom of the page and click on the tiny 'advertise' link, the page that you end up on looks like this:You will notice this page has no metrics of any kind. Instead, there is just this tiny text explaining that they have won more Pulitzer prizes than anyone else.For an insightful view of the world, there's no paper like The New York Times. For more than 150 years, Times readers have expected their newspaper to provide the most thorough and uncompromising coverage in the world. The Times has won more Pulitzer prizes than any other news organization and remains No. 1 in overall reach of U.S. opinion leaders.While this is certainly an admirable achievement, telling people this has very little to do with advertisers.And the rest is just practical information, such as what the ad specs are, where to submit the ad files, and what the editorial calendar looks like.I see this often in the media industry. Many publishers still think they live in a world where they don't have to put in any effort to make money, at least in th[...]

Will AIs Replace the Media?

Mon, 25 Sep 2017 16:12:14 GMT

Today we are going to talk about jobs, specifically whether AIs (artificial intelligences) will replace the jobs that currently exist in the media industry.

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How Editorial Analytics can Help you Define your Editorial Strategy

Mon, 18 Sep 2017 17:49:46 GMT

Let's talk about analytics, but not the type everyone else is talking about. Instead, let's talk about a type of analytics that can directly aid your newsroom to define a much better editorial strategy, as well as help create focus for your journalists.

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When Journalism is Causing Unintentional Harm

Tue, 12 Sep 2017 10:23:12 GMT

As a media analyst, I spend a lot of time looking at how the media industry is evolving in order to spot trends that either harm or help our future.But over the past many years, I have noticed five key problems that are increasingly damaging not just the media's role in society, but society itself.These problems are:Revealing victims of harassment, which leads to even more harassmentMedia doxxingBeing fooled into covering the wrong focusHe said, she said... for things that aren't equalGiving a voice to people who already dominate all voicesEach one of these problems cause real harm to our society, but in the media we are spending more and more time doing these things.Let me explain each one, and let's start with the simplest problem to solve.Revealing victims of harassment, which leads to even more harassmentOne of the scary things about the internet is how easy it is for people to harass each other without consequences. We have all been victims of this, some more than others (especially women). We have all been forced to block people, or even report people for abuse.The problem, however, is that the more we talk about it, the worse it gets.This is because most of this harassment is done by a very small group of people, who become more active and gain more popularity the more you antagonize them.This is why we often say "don't feed the trolls".The problem here is that, as journalists, we always cover the victims of harassment by making the public aware of them and why they are suffering.Usually, highlighting victims who need our help is a good thing.For instance, during a natural disaster, like Hurricane Harvey, the media covered all the victims of the devastating flooding. And while not everyone was pleased, the effect was generally good because it encouraged people to feel compassion for the victims, which increased the level of donations, public support, and other very positive actions.In other words, pointing out who the victims are usually drives a positive public response.It's the same with most types of crime. For instance, if a local bicycle shop has a number of bikes stolen, as journalists we will write our story, detailing what happened, what shop was stolen from, and with a sympathetic interview with the owner.Again, the outcome is positive, because it makes the public feel sorry for this shop and its owner, which in turn results in a level of public support.However, when it comes to harassment, this is not how the world works. Instead, what we see is something very different.If we look at the world before a news story about harassment appears, we will find that a very small group of people are harassing someone, but most people don't know about it.When we then cover this story, point out who the victim is, and explain the nature of the harassment, the result is usually something like this:Notice that a lot of the people who weren't aware have now come out against the harassment (which is good), but also notice that the share of people doing the harassment has now more than doubled.The result is that the person being harassed is now facing even more harassment. So, while the story was important in making people aware of an issue, the way we are covering it made the problem twice as bad for the actual people involved.This is a terrible outcome. And if we look at the trend, we have seen this exact pattern over the past several years.Today, far more people are aware and against harassment than ever before, but at the same t[...]

The Trend of One: Can We Ever Do Personalization?

Thu, 31 Aug 2017 09:32:25 GMT

Personalization is one of those topics that we keep coming back to. I have had more discussions about this with media executives than I can remember, and even though there are many good suggestions and even attempts, nobody has ever really been able to make this work.

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The problem with Medium's New Metric: Public vs Private Analytics

Thu, 17 Aug 2017 16:27:29 GMT

Earlier this week, Medium announced a new metric, called the 'applause'. But there are some problems with it, which tie in with a more general concern about how metrics on social channels force us to optimize for the wrong things.The main problem is the difference between what the public sees and what the author can see, which is also a massive problem with the metrics on sites like YouTube and Facebook.Here is why:If you haven't seen Medium's announcement yet, let me very briefly summarize how their new applause metric, using 'claps' works.Basically, a clap is similar to a 'like' button but you can click on it as many times as you want. So when you see an article that you really like, instead of just liking (or applauding) it once, you can just keep hitting the button and give it as many likes (claps) as you want.This is actually a rather interesting metric.We all want more detailed and granular metrics, and this is certainly a very interesting way to get that. And as the author of a post, you can dive into this as much as you want.Not only do you get to see the total amount of claps, but you can also delve into the data and see how many claps each person gave.This is pretty cool, as Medium explains:Since day one, Medium has had a goal of measuring value. The problem, as we saw it, with much of the media/web ecosystem is that the things that are measured and optimized for were not necessarily the things that reflected true value to people. For example, a pageview is a pageview, whether it's a 3-second bounce (clickbait) or a 5-minute, informative story you read to the end. As a result, we got a lot more of the former.On Medium, we've tried to provide more meaningful metrics. We display to our authors not only views, but reads (i.e., how many people got to the bottom of a post). We calculate time spent on posts and display that for publication owners. And we use all of this in our systems that determine which posts to distribute to more people. The goal is always to be able to suss out the great from the merely popular.To make this more meaningful, Medium has created the clap function, which works like this:Just click the 👏 instead of the ❤️. If you feel strongly, click it more (or just hold down). The more you clap, the more positive feedback you're providing to the author, and the more you're letting us know the story is worth reading. (Only the author can see how many claps you gave them.) Our system will evaluate your claps on an individual basis, assessing your evaluation of a story relative to the number of claps you typically send. All this will help the stories that matter most rise to the top.This all sounds pretty good, but this is only half the story. The problem here is that there is a massive disconnect between what the public sees and what the author sees.Public vs private metricsOn almost all social channels, we have a big problem with vanity metrics, metrics that look really cool, but underneath don't really mean what you think they mean.One of the worst examples of this is the view metric on Facebook (and to a lesser degree on YouTube). We all know that views on Facebook is one of the most misleading metrics in the world, simply because what they define as a view has nothing to do with people actually watching a video.The bigger problem with this, however, is the disconnect between the view metrics that you can see as publishers, and what members of the [...]

Can Your Readers Trust You With Their Time?

Thu, 10 Aug 2017 14:12:43 GMT

Trust has always been important for the media (even though most publishers don't seem to focus on it), but the way we define it has changed a lot over the years. And, today, trust is increasingly centered around time.We now live in this incredibly stressful world with so much noise and so many distractions, you will notice how people often comment "this was a waste of time" or "this is well worth the time".So, offering people value for their time is now a key element.This is particularly true when it comes to subscription-based media. If you want to convince people to pay, a critical element to promote is what you offer people in terms of their time. This is far more important than to talk about other features, or how much content you have.For instance, in the past, a magazine might promote their content as:Get full access to thousands of stories about hundreds of topics.But in today's world, this doesn't sell very well.The reason is obvious. Today we have access to so much information from so many places that just giving people more content instantly makes you think about information overload rather than something of value.A much better thing to say is how your content can fit into people's time. For instance, Highbrow, the high-intent micro-moment learning site I wrote about in a previous article, is offering you ways to learn in terms of time.Specifically, they have created a platform for 10-day courses that each take place over five minute emails.In other words, it's something you can read every morning over breakfast or during your daily commute.But it's not really that it's short that makes this a better selling point, it's the focus.At the other end of the scale, we see sites like FStoppers, which I have also mentioned in some of my other articles. They are offering people very high-end photography tutorials, with each series being between 5 and 20 hours long.They too are talking about time, specifically how this is time worth has once again teamed up with Elia Locardi to produce a second travel tutorial titled Photographing The World: Cityscape, Astrophotography, and Advanced Post-Processing. When compared with Elia's first Fstoppers tutorial on Landscape photography, everything in this tutorial is bigger, longer, and more advanced. With more than 15 hours of video content, this tutorial will take you around the world to 5 different countries and 7 unique cities spanning from ancient architecture all the way to some of the world's most modern cities.Here is another example from another photographer. And again, we see how this entire presentation is designed to explain why buying his tutorial is worth your time. class="video" title="video" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="">Compare this to what most traditional publishers are doing. For instance, if you head over to the LA Times, this is their subscription page.Notice how, at no point, do they explain to you why they are worth your time. Instead, their selling points are based on features like 'unlimited access, a news app, coupons, etc.'However, there is also a link to a video presentation at the top of the page, "Watch this brief video to see why real journalism cannot be compromised."But when you click on that link, what you get is this:I'm not kidding. This is the actual page where LA Times presents why you should [...]

How Publishers can get Started with AI

Wed, 9 Aug 2017 14:17:16 GMT

The one thing that everyone is talking about at the moment is artificial intelligence (aka AI), and I have received numerous questions from publishers asking how they should think about this.

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Let's Calculate What Publishers Could Earn from the Google 'Snippet Tax'

Tue, 1 Aug 2017 08:34:18 GMT

As a media analyst, I'm getting really tired of listening to publishers complain about how Google is using news snippets in Google Search (and Google News), and how several publishers are trying to push Google to pay a 'snippet tax'.There are two reasons why this is so tiring.The whole argument makes no senseThere is no money in it, even if you manage to make it happenLet me explain why, including trying to calculate the actual revenue potential.It makes no senseNewspapers argue that Google should pay to use a snippet from a newspaper because they are making money from it.From a general perspective, I actually kind of agree with this. As a publisher myself, I do think that the 'creator' of content should earn most of the revenue that content generates, regardless of where that happens.But this is not really what the newspapers are saying, because they are only arguing that they should be paid, not everyone else.In other words, newspapers argue that Google should pay them for using their content as a source, but the newspapers themselves don't have to pay when they do the same thing.We see this every single day.A journalist will write a story based on something they found somewhere else, but do they pay that source for the quotes?For instance, occasionally, a journalist emails me to ask questions for a story they are writing, and (depending on the topic) I sometimes reply. I don't get paid for that.So, why should Google pay the newspaper for linking to that story in Google Search, when the newspaper isn't paying its own sources?And why should Google only pay newspapers? Shouldn't they pay anyone, including all the bloggers, the digital natives, the scientists who published a research study, etc?You see the problem here?This whole argument makes no sense. Either the rules apply to all, or to nobody. The idea of creating a law that only applies to newspapers illustrates a level of entitlement that is simply shameful.There is no money to be gained hereThe second problem is even bigger, and that is that even if we managed to turn this into law, it still wouldn't change anything.The reason is, publishers in general don't understand how Google works, or how they make money.So, let's calculate the actual revenue potential newspapers could possibly get from this 'snippet tax'.First of all, Google is big, in fact, the current estimate is that Google is serving up between 1.5 to 2 trillion searches per year.That amounts to 125 billion searches per month.Google also makes a lot of money. In the last quarter, it made a stunning $26 billion, of which $4.1 billion was profit.Amazing!But, of course, this is for Alphabet as a whole (Google's parent company), and across everything Google does. If we look at only the money Google earned from its own sites (Google Search + YouTube), that results in $18.5 billion for the last quarter... or $6.2 billion per month.Of course, we then have to take out YouTube, but Google doesn't detail how much money goes to each. If you ask the music labels, they argue that almost all the money is going to YouTube, whereas news publishers argue it's all going to Search.I have no idea. But let's estimate that 75% of Google's own ad revenue is from Google Search and the rest is for YouTube.This means that Google Search has a revenue of $4.65 billion per month, of which about $700 million ([...]

Yes, We can fix the distribution problem

Mon, 31 Jul 2017 14:14:53 GMT

One of the biggest struggles that everyone faces today is distribution, as in, how do we get our content in front of people in a way that is valuable to us?

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I Miss The Simple Days

Tue, 25 Jul 2017 10:20:10 GMT

Let's talk about simplicity. One of things that we all need to do is to optimize our publications so that they work better. But at the same time, we also often see how over-optimization just takes the fun out of everything.The best example of this was something Derek Sivers said back in 2011 in his video (and book): "I Miss the Mob". If you haven't watched it already, you absolutely should. class="video" title="video" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="">In his video, he talks about how optimizing businesses takes all the fun out of them. Instead of feeling welcomed and part of something, you end up feeling used and kind of violated.As he says:I was in Las Vegas for a conference, taking a taxi from the airport to the hotel.I asked the driver, "How long have you lived here?"He said, "27 years.""Wow! A lot has changed since then, huh?""Yeah. I miss the mob.""Huh? Really? What do you mean?""When the mafia ran this town, it was fun. There were only two numbers that mattered: how much is coming in, and how much is going out. As long as more in than out, everyone's happy. But then the whole town was bought up by these damn corporations full of MBA weasels micro-managing, trying to maximize the profit from every square foot of floor space. Now the place that used to put ketchup on my hot dog tells me it'll be an extra 25 cents for ketchup! It sucked all the fun out of this town! --- Yeah... I miss the mob.''The reason why I'm reminded of this is because I see this every single day. For instance, this morning I read an article over at The Telegraph about how "Former Doctor Who Peter Davison says casting of woman means loss of role model for boys".At the end of this article there is a quiz, where its readers can take part in this discussion by making their own opinion known. This is brilliant from an engagement perspective, but then when you click on it, the optimization takes over.I recorded a video of it (see below), but the first time I did this was actually even worse (before I recorded it), because that also showed a video ad after I clicked on my answer.In other words, this was my experience:I added my answerI was shown the result...which was then immediately replaced by a "see also" box...which then (which you can't see in the video) was immediately replaced by a video ad class="video" title="video" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="">This feels exactly like what Derek explains.As a reader, I thought we had a moment. I was reading this article, I had an opinion about it, I decided to engage with it, but then I learned that I had just been tricked by another advertising monetization optimization tactic.Adding all this optimization noise is exactly like being asked to pay another 25 cents for ketchup. It just takes the fun out of it.And it's not like The Telegraph doesn't have plenty of other things on their page already. By just loading the page, 27 different trackers are triggered, exposing my 'attention' to several advertising and content recommendation schemes.But even with all that, they still thought this quiz needed another set of extra optimization elements. In that box alone, there is a share link, a 'like' link, a partner link, a brand[...]

Can You Give a Non-Video Example?

Fri, 21 Jul 2017 14:44:52 GMT

This is one question that I keep getting from my readers. You want me to give you more examples that don't involve video.For instance, one reader recently emailed me this:Reading your last article, I had the feeling that you rely too much on video for your examples of good practices. The examples are valid and top notch, but I miss some examples of good content in other formats, text articles especially. After all, magazines or news agencies are not just YouTube channels.This is a very good point, and in many ways I agree.I'm very aware that many of the examples that I use in my articles come in the form of video, and from that, most of them are from YouTube.There are, however, a number of good reasons for this.Let's start with why I use YouTube video more than any other form of video.The simple answer to that is that they are so easily embedded into an article. And I have designed my CMS to handle it very efficiently. If I want to embed a video from YouTube, I simply write "youtube:[video id]" in my article, and my CMS will automatically convert that into an embedded video that matches the (responsive) format of my site.I can't do this for most other video sources, because here, either it's impossible for me to embed it, or... worse... when I do embed it, it breaks the layout (because many video embeds force a fixed width).It's also very easy to find good examples to use on YouTube, because YouTube is built around discovery.You can't easily find good examples on Facebook, because Facebook Search is terrible, there is no good way to discover things on Facebook pages. Similarly, trying to find something on a traditional media site is usually impossible, and trying to do any form of discovery on Snapchat (or Instagram) is just a joke.But these are just the technical reasons for why I use a lot of YouTube videos, another has to do with the trends.As I have said before, YouTube is wonderful in that it's often the place where new long-term media trends start (or at least mature). This is because YouTube is a platform for creators. So every single day, we see all these wonderful examples of creators exploring new ways of connecting, engaging and creating long-term audiences.This makes YouTube very different from, say, Facebook. Because Facebook is mainly focused on 'at-the-moment' engagement.So trends that we see on YouTube often have a much longer impact, and are much closer aligned with the bigger macro-trends of the media (all the trends that are important). Trends we see on Facebook are flimsy and short-term.More to the point, when we compare this to what we see in traditional media, we find traditional media are often five years out of date. So when a publisher is doing something new, the trend that made that possible often happened five years before on YouTube.This is not always the case, of course, and YouTube is still just a video site. But think about things like the focus on influencers, on how to connect with people, how to think about journalists as those who drive the success, how niche verticals are growing in importance, the atomization of media, etc. ...all of those happened on YouTube five years before we started seeing it in traditional media.So the reason I often don't give examples from traditional publ[...]

Making Journalists and Editors Relevant to a Digital Audience

Thu, 20 Jul 2017 11:58:17 GMT

Back in the early years when journalism was first invented, we made two mistakes that have haunted us ever since.

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Rethinking The Digital Future of Magazines: A Case study

Tue, 27 Jun 2017 17:08:37 GMT

As a media analyst, I have had the pleasure of working with a lot of very big publishers, trying to help them rethink what it means to be a publisher. But one of the things that is often hard to explain is how the bigger media trends impact individual magazines.

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The Analytic Connections That Define Intent

Mon, 12 Jun 2017 19:21:27 GMT

Usually when I talk about analytics for publishers, I take the long view on data because, in publishing, momentum over time is what defines us.

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Fixing Twitter by Blocking Trump... is Wonderful

Tue, 6 Jun 2017 10:23:37 GMT

Let me show you a very simple trick to make Twitter about a million times better, and also how to get Twitter 'back on topic' so that it can actually be used again as a tool for work. I'm talking about blocking Trump from Twitter.We have a problem.The media has this absolutely insane obsession with tweeting about Trump. Sure, there are some important news items that need to be covered, like when Trump decided to drop the Paris agreement, but most tweets don't have any real news.As a result, people are sick of it. Publications such as Quartz now have a 'Trump snooze button', and apps like Nuzzel have introduced a (very expensive) Pro plan, that allows you to block out things like 'politics'.This alone should tell you how the public really feels about what the media is focusing on. People are sick and tired of Trump, and they want something else.But the media doesn't stop, because Trump creates outrage and that in turn creates a whole lot of traffic. So, instead of thinking about the future, we have turned the media (and especially Twitter) into this sinkhole of despair.Just notice how many people tweet this:Wakes up. Checks Twitter . . . uh . . . Regrets checking Twitter. Goes back to bed.What we are doing right now is digging ourselves into a hole, because we are making people hate using the media. And this applies to everyone.I recently asked a friend of mine about it. He is one of those weird people who doesn't use Twitter, and also generally doesn't use Facebook. Even he was annoyed by the constant barrage of Trump related stories, most of which have no real information but feel more like an episode for the new low-end reality TV show: "Trump's White House".For me it's even worse, because, as a media analyst, I'm constantly surrounded by journalists and editors and, through my work, I need to look at what they do. As such, my Twitter has pretty much stopped working.This morning I decided to count just how many tweets there were about Trump (directly or indirectly), and it turns out that it was about one in every 3-4 tweets.That means that my Twitter experience is: Trump . . Trump . . Trump . . Trump . . Trump . . Trump . . Trump . . Trump . . Trump.That's insane!And I have started to feel sad about using Twitter, as in, it actually had a real impact on my mental state. Some days, I would wake up, read Twitter, see all this insanity about Trump, get angry, and then I would start my work.But because I was now in a negative mood this had a negative impact on my ability to write constructively and efficiently. And as one who makes a living from writing about the media, this is catastrophic.So, I have now (partly) fixed this problem, by very aggressively blocking all mentions of Trump from my Twitter feed.This is my current list of blocked words:Note: There are several ways you can do this. I have set this up in Tweetdeck, because that is the main way I use Twitter, but you can also do it for Twitter as a whole. Here is a text version of the block list.What this does is that it excludes any tweet containing any of these words. And the result is that, instead of 1 in every 3 tweets being about Trump, with the blo[...]

What is the Best Monetization / Subscription Model?

Thu, 1 Jun 2017 14:40:15 GMT

The most frequent question I get from my clients is "what is the best monetization/subscription model"? And it sounds like such a deceptively simple question with an equally simple answer.

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The Problem with Ethnic Racism in the Media

Mon, 22 May 2017 15:11:35 GMT

There are obviously both good and bad people in journalism, and there are good and bad publishers. And, generally speaking, there are far more good people in journalism than bad ones.Pretty much every single journalist and editor that I know is both highly skilled, ethical and tolerant people. Journalists who, just like you and me, get angry when they see intolerance happening around them.So, it's weird that the media industry has a massive cultural problem around racism. Both in terms of racial racism, ethnic racism, and gender racism.Let me give you just one simple example.A few days ago, I was checking up on the news in one of the big national newspapers in my country and I came this story block on the front page. (It is in Danish, so I have it translated via Google Translate here)What happened (from the looks of this) was that we six young kids between 12 and 16 had assaulted an adult couple, in an apparent attempted robbery, and because of that, our politicians (and the media) went into populistic overdrive to condemn that it happened.But they didn't stop there, they also turned it into a racist and intolerant agenda, demanding that young asylum seekers should not be allowed to go out at night.Why is this racist, you ask? Well, let me change just one tiny thing in this headline.Try reading this:By simply changing 'asylum seekers' to 'blacks', you very easily see just how racist this is. You cannot look at the actions of a few individuals and then use that to discriminate against an entire population group.This is unacceptable.For instance, in my country, a few of our politicians have been caught drunk driving, which in a few isolated cases resulted in them crashing their cars.So, using the same reasoning, should all the politicians not be allowed to drive?But this article isn't really about the politics. I'm not a political analyst (or activist). I'm a media analyst. So let's talk about the role of the media.Media racismThe problem that we have here is a combination of several things.I think we can all agree that the role of journalism is, in part, to represent reality in our focus, to make sure people are aware of that reality once they have finished reading a story, and also to protect the public from being misled.At least, this is how I would define it.And this is true regardless if we are talking about a newspaper covering crime and politics, or if we are publishing a fitness magazine for people at home.If I read a story about fitness, that story should be equally based on reality. Meaning that if the story claims that something is healthy for me to do, we have a journalistic responsibility to make sure that is true.The problem is that, in journalism, we have developed a culture that fundamentally violates this. Because instead of focus on reality, we are increasingly focusing on edge and isolated cases, often only covering the narrative of that single incident.In other words, we have given up on providing real perspective and insight about the real world, in exchange for the quick fix of reporting about smaller stories that don't really mean much[...]

Understanding the Complex Macro Trends That Define the Media

Sat, 20 May 2017 13:09:20 GMT

Every time we have a discussion about how publishers should make money in the new world of media, there is an overwhelming sense that we just need to replace the old model with a new one. That was how media used to work.

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How to Present VR to an Audience?

Tue, 9 May 2017 15:23:46 GMT

Virtual Reality is one of the technologies that both have a tremendous amount of potential, but also struggle with the very high level of friction caused by the need for a VR headset.The number of steps people have to take in order to experience VR, from putting on the headset, to downloading the VR app you want to use, and to do all the navigating to actually get it started just insane.The result is that today VR is not something we can 'snack on'. The mostly gimmicky experiments I have seen from publishers are just that. A gimmick that had a very short term period of fame when everything thought this was a new thing. But it's not a market.There is no future for short gimmicky VR experiences.In many ways, VR is similar to what we see with smartphones. In the early days, every publisher believed that the future was just to create apps, because then people would download them and it will all just be wonderful.Today, of course, we have learned that people really only use a very few apps. So while we all have Instagram, Twitter and Facebook on our phones, hardly anyone have or use apps that only have occasional or short term use.VR is the same thing. The idea that people will download a VR experience and then go through all the motions to set it up and prepare their headsets is just not happening.So, from a trend perspective, what I see right now are three things.First is the future trend, in which VR technology gets to a point where it no longer feels like a really cumbersome thing to use. For instance, the potential is much higher once we make VR truly mobile (like what Mark Zuckerberg talked about last year).But we are nowhere near this point yet.So, today, I see two other trends that define VR.The first trend is the niche markets for high-end VR use. For instance, we see a very interesting business market for VR, like when car designers can design new cars in VR, or how you can use VR in education to train future workers for a much lower cost.Those markets are really interesting.We also see the high-end market for VR gaming. Obviously, the whole first person gaming industry is perfect for VR. But we are not talking simple VR anymore. We are talking about a fully immersive VR experience where you combine high-end gaming computers with the best headsets, with multi hand interface control mechanisms.One example of this is the upcoming 'Star Trek: Bridge Crew' VR game, where a group of players can take control of the bridge of a starship, just like in the Star Trek movies.And it's shockingly good. Here is what some of the Star Trek cast had to say about it. class="video" title="video" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="">Obviously, a game like this is the perfect example for VR done right, but the important element is that it isn't just a gimmick or something you try quickly. This is something you will be spending 30 to 50 hours with, if not more.It's a macro-moment.The reason I point this out is because what I see from publishers is always low-qual[...]

Geeking Out Over Analytics

Mon, 8 May 2017 16:54:00 GMT

I had a discussion recently about the future of analytics, specifically about what new analytics trends that I'm geeking out about, and I wanted to share it with you.We are living in the most exciting time of all, because the world of analytics is going through a tremendous transformation. The old form of analytics is being replaced with a number of new ways of thinking about data. Ways that are far more in tune with how we humans behave.But let me briefly summarize the four different types of analytics that I'm fascinated by at the moment.The first one is 'scored analytics'.Scored analytics is a form of analytics where you try to measure the importance of an article (or similar things) by looking at the value of the interactions.For instance, having a person actually read an article is much more valuable than just having someone view an article. But it's not just what people do on the page that it's important, it's also how people get to the page, and what people do afterwards.For instance, a visitor coming to an article from your newsletter is generally more valuable than just a random view via Facebook. Having people share an article might indicate another form of value (although not always the type you think). And having people return is another signal as well.The problem is that, with normal analytics, all of these metrics are presented as single data points with none of them making that big of a difference.This is where scored analytics comes in. With scored analytics, you attribute a value to each type of interaction, and then you add them all up. So, one article might have a total score of 290, while another one might have a score of 470. Meaning the second article was more valuable not because of any single metric, but because of the combined value of all the interactions combined.This is a very interesting way of thinking about analytics, especially for publishers.The second type I'm fascinated about is 'behavioral analytics'. Behavioral analytics focuses on measuring how people behave, in order to give us a much better idea of the value of each interaction.Let me give you a simple example.If you are using Chartbeat, it will help you measure how much attention a page gets, but it doesn't tell you whether that was a useful form of attention or not. This is where behavioral analytics comes in.For instance, imagine you want to measure if people read a page. The way this is usually done is like thisHere we check if people start scrolling down the page, and then we also check when they reach the end. And the way we then determine if people actually read the article is by looking at how long this takes.If an article takes 7 minutes to read, but people scroll from the top to bottom in only 15 seconds, then they didn't really read it.This works fine for simple stuff, but it's not very accurate.A better model would be to look at how people scroll down a page. Like this:Here we observe that people started scrolling and then stopped when the next part of the article was in view[...]

The Future for Publishers in an Automated World of Machine Learning

Tue, 2 May 2017 17:23:06 GMT

The future that is coming with machine learning is deeply fascinating and it will fundamentally change the way we do things.

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No Publishers, You Don't Own Advertising

Thu, 20 Apr 2017 15:32:25 GMT

We all know that advertising trends are disrupting the way that media can be monetized. We also know that two companies, Google and Facebook, are totally dominating all new digital advertising spend. And the result of this is a very negative outlook for publishers.

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Publishers and Micropayments. We Completely Miss the Point

Thu, 6 Apr 2017 14:53:43 GMT

Last month, I wrote an article about why a Spotify For News model is mostly just a distraction and what we need to do instead. I also wrote another article about why news startups are all failing, and how to rethink that.

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Advertising Versus Fake News, Extremists and News

Mon, 27 Mar 2017 21:02:29 GMT

Unless you have been offline for the past week, you will know about a mass advertiser exodus from Google and YouTube with accompanying newspaper reporting against Google.So far, a large number of big companies have pulled their ads from Google over fears that they are used to fund extremism. At the same time, eager politicians wanting to win some quick votes and to look good in the press, were quick to give journalists juicy (but misleading) quotes, which the press saw no reason to fact check.Also, the person who has found many of these 'problematic examples' is a guy who has filed a patent for solving this problem, thus using journalists to drive demand so that he can sell it to Google.Add to that stories by the press itself, where they interviewed 'experts' who clearly don't know what they are talking about.For instance, the Guardian wrote:The ads help fund payments to the people who post the videos, with every 1,000 clicks worth about £6. Experts estimate this could have been worth £250,000 to extremists.Anyone who has ever used YouTube knows that this isn't even remotely true. This is not how YouTube works.But there is a much bigger problem here.The problem is that this trend doesn't really hurt Google that much in the long run, but it will decimate the news media industry. While the press is getting 'high' on bashing Google, they fail to realize that everything they say apply to themselves as well.This doesn't mean there isn't a problem with Google. There is. As I tweeted:Is there a problem with the ad tech market? Yes! ... Should something be done? Yes! ... Is this also 'Google bashing' by rivals? absolutely!So let's have a discussion about this from the perspective of a media analyst. What is actually going on here, and what is the real trend?YouTube doesn't work that wayFirstly, let's just get something out of the way here. Much of the discussion around why brands 'justify' pulling their ads from YouTube is based on the narrative that Google is 'funding extremism'.As I mentioned earlier, the Guardian claimed videos earn £6 per 1000 views, providing the staggering amount of £250,000 to extremism.Is this true? Well, no. This is not how YouTube works.Let me explain, starting with who gets the money.There is a misconception in the media that all videos with ads on YouTube generate money for the person who uploaded it. This is not necessarily true. The fact is that only YouTube Partners make money from YouTube advertising.I can prove this:Here is a screenshot of one of the videos I have uploaded to YouTube on my personal account. It's not about anything serious (I am just playing around in Photoshop), but it has accumulated 100,000+ views.But notice that before it starts playing, YouTube is showing a pre-roll ad for something on iTunes.So according to The Guardian's 'expert', I should have earned £648 (or $787) from this video. But how much have I actually earn[...]

We Need to Drastically Rethink The News Startups

Thu, 23 Mar 2017 11:14:02 GMT

One of the strange things about news media is that we haven't really seen any significant changes yet in how it is done. This is despite the fact that every single trend tells us that this market is ripe for a disruption.

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