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Strategic insight and analysis for people in the media industry



 



More Facebook Data. How Does US, UK and Nordic Publishers Perform?

Tue, 27 Sep 2016 17:05:12 GMT

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote the article "Facebook Traffic to Publishers? Up? Down? Huh?" In that article we explored the many studies that look at how publishers are performing on Facebook.

Baekdal Plus: Read the rest of this article in Baekdal Plus




What Killed The Newspapers? Google Or Facebook? Or...?

Wed, 21 Sep 2016 14:20:01 GMT

On Tuesday we had a short discussion over at Twitter about what killed the newspapers (or what killed their ad revenue). It started with Ben Thompson who posted this graph.This is not a new graph for anyone in the industry. It has been the go to graph to illustrate the future trends for newspaper ad revenue, and I have used it in many of my articles.But what Ben added was the revenue graph from Facebook, tweeting:FACT: Journalism's business model was screwed before Facebook earned a single dimeAnd I absolutely agree. Facebook might be growing really big, but it was not what killed the industry. So what did? Well, another smart person, being Jack Marshall, asked:What about Google?I looked up those numbers and added them to the graph:Now we see the real culprit. In fact, if you combine Google and Facebook together, you see that the upward trending line (since the 1950s) is still continuing today.I want to make an important point, though: Google didn't actually kill the newspaper advertising market. Google replaced it with an entirely different market. It's the same money, but Google isn't in the same market as the newspapers. It instead created its own market and brands decided that was a better place to be.Let me explain:If we look at advertising in newspapers, they are almost always based on creating random exposure for people with no specific intent. You flip through the newspaper, not really knowing what will be on the next page, and there you find an ad for some random brand.In the past, this was pretty much how all advertising was done. It was low-intent exposure.Google Search, which is how Google makes most of its money, is nothing like this. Google Search is instead based on advertising to people when they are specifically looking for something. This is what Google Search ads are all about. They are for when people are looking for a new blender, a bicycle rack or anything else you can image.This is an entirely different form of advertising. It's based on a specific need that people search for. Meaning it's based on high-intent exposure.This is an incredibly important distinction to understand. Google isn't winning because it's big or that it has so much more scale. It's winning because it created a way for people to have high-intent moments, which brands can reach with their ads.We have shifted from having a single advertising market (all based on low-intent exposure), to having two different advertising markets... and the media only fits into one of them.Brands will always prefer to have a high-intent moment than low-intent moment (at least the brands who know what they are doing). And it's because of this that newspapers are losing the market. You are not losing to Google. You are losing to people's 'intent'.This is the reality today. It doesn't really help to complain about Google, because you don't offer an alternative. If the media industry wants to get some of this money back, you first need to design high-intent moments for your readers and advertisers. That's the only way to compete with Google.Facebook, on the other hand, is doing exactly the same as newspapers. The way advertising works on Facebook is exactly the way it works in newspapers. Here you have a NewsFeed with random stories that people look through. And within this feed you happen to come across random advertising (vaguely targeted to you).This is (again) low-intent advertising exposure.Facebook is competing directly with newspapers within the same type of advertising market. But this is not the market Google is in (well, except for YouTube).The newspapers and Facebook are in the low-intent advertising market. It's a market that Facebook is currently winning because of its scale, but also because of better targeting and generally a better 'mood'. It's far more relevant for a brand to advertise when people are having a good time than it is when they are reading about someone being murdered.Google, Craigslist and others are (mostly) in the new high-intent advertising market. It's an entirely different type of market ba[...]



Can We Fix The Comments?

Thu, 15 Sep 2016 15:13:34 GMT

A question that many media executives are asking these days is what do we do with comments? Is it even worth spending any time on them? Many publications have already decided to completely drop comments, while others are spending an enormous amount of time trying to keep them in check.

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Facebook Versus Aftenposten: We Are Fighting the Wrong War

Tue, 13 Sep 2016 15:04:28 GMT

We need to talk about what happened last week between Aftenposten in Norway and Facebook. You have probably already heard the story. Facebook deleted one of Aftenposten's posts when it contained an image of a naked child fleeing from napalm bombs.I won't go into the details, because you probably already know them, and if you don't, head over to The Guardian to read a summary.But the short story is that Facebook deleted the post because it violated its community guidelines, and the press went bananas. The Editor of Aftenposten posted a front-page editorial telling Facebook that it wouldn't comply with their rules; the Norwegian Prime Minister posted the image in her support of this 'censorship', which Facebook also deleted. Not because they wanted to silence the Prime Minister, but because she too posted a picture of a naked child... and it just got crazy from there.After a whole day of the press running around with pitchforks, Facebook relented and reinstated the post. Of course, by doing so, nothing actually changed and this whole thing will repeat itself at some point in the future.The problem is that this is the wrong fight to have in the first place. Regardless of who wins, we are fighting against what the people want... and that is a fight that nobody can benefit from.We need to have an entirely different type of discussion about what the role of Facebook is.So, let's have a talk about this.Two disclaimers Before I start though, I feel I need to make two things clear.The first thing is that, on a personal level, I have an opinion about this photo like everyone else. In my country, our sensitivity towards nudity is quite relaxed, and I didn't feel any outrage when I saw this photo.But, my personal opinion about this doesn't matter. One of the promises that I make to you as a media analyst is that I do not allow my personal feelings to interfere with my analysis, and this is true for this article as well.I point this out because many will think that I'm expressing an opinion in this article, but I'm not. And I hope you will read it in the same way. Please leave your personal opinion about Facebook behind, and let's have a serious discussion about media trends, patterns and movements.Okay?The second disclaimer is that Schibsted, the company who owns Aftenposten, is actually a client of mine. Not only do I have several Schibsted editors and executives as subscribers to Baekdal Plus, they are also a client of my consulting business.I have not worked directly with Aftenposten, but I worked with other publications within the Schibsted Group, I was recently invited to give a talk at one of their events (which I had to decline for other reasons), and I was invited to contribute to the Annual Report of the Tinius Trust, who is the largest shareholder of Schibsted.Schibsted is a media company that is a very dear to me.So, I'm faced with a very painful dilemma. I can either just ignore this whole thing so as to not 'rock the boat' which would be dishonest to my readers, who have asked me to write this article. Or, I can be a media analyst and provide my unfiltered analysis of this problem.I'm obviously going to do the latter and provide you with the unfiltered analysis, but I really hate being put into this position.So, here we go...Is Facebook a media company?Before we talk about the actual photo, we need to address a common misconception that I see every day in the media industry. It's the question of whether Facebook is really a media company, or whether it's just a tech company.Facebook itself likes just to be called a tech company, because that way it can point to its engineers and algorithms and not have to own up to the responsibility that comes with acting like an editor.Journalists and editors too want Facebook to be just a tech company and merely act as a platform for distribution. Because, as a tech company, editors can demand that Facebook doesn't interfere with their own editorial focus.And when we look at what happened last week, th[...]



What countries are Baekdal Plus subscribers from?

Mon, 5 Sep 2016 15:49:37 GMT

One of the things that often defines a digital native is that they have no country. Traditional media companies are all country-based. We often hear that traditional publishers are 'expanding into [insert country]', as if they are not already there.Digital natives don't think like this, because they are global by default. A US YouTuber would never say, "I want to expand into Canada," because they are already in every country in the world.I wrote much more about this in my recent newsletter, which you can see here (and if you aren't getting it already, do add yourself to the list).Another place I see this is looking at this site, Baekdal Plus. My audience comes from all over the world (although some countries are dominating more than others), and it's quite interesting to look at.The way I run my business simply wouldn't be possible 10-15 years ago. Baekdal Plus is 100% digital, but only 3% of audience is coming from my own country. 97% is coming from other countries, which I would not have been able to reach before the internet.But let me show you the data.There many ways we can measure an audience. Do we just look at the traffic, or do we look at conversion (which in my case means subscribers)? Well, let's look at both.Here is a graph illustrating which countries my audience is coming from if you look at unique visitors.As you can see, I have a ton of traffic coming from the US, but keep in mind that the US is also a country with 318 million people, so it's not really surprising that this one country stands out.When we instead look at this per capita, now we see that most of my traffic is coming from countries that are close to my own (Denmark/Northern Europe) and/or English speaking.Notice how I have just as much traffic from Australia as from the US, when compared per capita. Language is more powerful than distance in the connected world.But notice how people from almost every single country in the world visit this site. The only ones missing are a few countries in Africa, Kosovo, Macedonia and Bosnia and Herzegovina in Eastern Europe... and North Korea.This would have been impossible just 15 years ago.But I'm not really interested in unique visitors, because I don't make any money just from the traffic. Baekdal Plus is monetized by subscriptions, so it's far more relevant to me to look at that.So, here is the same map but for all 'conversions', being both actual subscribers and people signing up for a free trial.Yes, the US is dominating Baekdal Plus in a big way. About 60% of all my subscribers and free trials come from the US.But again, because the US is so big, it is kind of hard to see what's going on everywhere else. So here is the same data excluding the US.What you see now is that the UK and Belgium are my two largest (non-US) countries in terms of where my subscribers are coming from. Next are Norway and Sweden. Then comes Australia, followed by my own country (Denmark), Germany, Canada and Brazil.Yes, Brazil. How awesome is that?You will also notice that I'm getting more and more subscribers from India and Indonesia, which is just brilliant.Africa is a bit of a problem though, and so is China. I have a few important subscribers in Hong Kong, but because of China's media laws, it's impossible for me to make Baekdal Plus relevant for them.I want to mention Turkey here as well. As you can see above, I do have a number of subscribers in Turkey, which I find to be very interesting. Or rather, I used to have subscribers in Turkey, but not anymore.As you may know, Turkey has decided to close down its internet to global players by forcing, for instance, payment providers to operate entirely within its borders (similar to what is happening in China). And as a result, PayPal has been forced to stop all payments from my subscribers in Turkey.It's yet another example of how Turkey is destroying itself and hurting not just the media industry, but also the tech industry. It's really sad to see.So, I'm unable to ge[...]



Facebook Doesn't Really Know Anything Important About Me

Fri, 26 Aug 2016 08:17:36 GMT

We often hear how people are scared of all the data Google and Facebook are collecting about us, and how they know everything about us. But do they really?I agree that there is a ton of problems in the US around data brokers and how data is being collected and shared without my consent. In fact, most of the standard practices that we see in the US are illegal in many parts of Europe.For instance, in my country (Denmark), companies are not allowed, by law, to share personally identifiable data with third parties. This pretty much eliminates data brokers from even existing. It's also illegal for companies to collect information about me that isn't directly related to the product I'm buying.If I go down to Ford to look at a car, Ford is not allowed to write down what type of clothes I'm wearing. This data isn't relevant to buying a car and as such cannot be collected by law.This is one reason why there is so much friction between US tech companies and the EU. Our definition of privacy is much, much stronger.But what I don't agree with is the notion that Facebook is scary because, let's face it, it's not very good at targeting ads.When was the last time you went to Facebook and said, "Yes, this ad is just what I wanted!"Right? That almost never happens. Most of the time you say, "Why are you showing me this crap? I will never buy this in a million years!"And it's not just Facebook. This is true on any channel. We talk so much about big data, tracking, and advertising... but the ads aren't really that relevant.In fact, Twitter recently admitted as much when their US head of sales said this:We can provide the same level of deliverable results that we can with logged-in users.In other words, whether they know who you are or not doesn't really change how the ad performs.But let me give you a practical example.You can go over to Facebook and see exactly what things it thinks you are interested in, or what it calls your 'Ad preferences'. And the result is never that good.Here is what Facebook thinks it knows about me.First, we have what businesses and industries it thinks I like:Business and industry: Restoration Hardware, Porsche, BBC, Internet television, SpaceX, Science, The Walt Disney Company, Facebook, Pixar, Google, Nieman Foundation for Journalism, NASA, Designer, Facebook, Developers, Futurist, Telecommunication, Mass media, Physics, Porsche Design Group.I do love SpaceX, NASA, futurism, and science in general. But, you have to be very specific in what you are trying to advertise before I would even consider buying anything related to those keywords.Yes, I would probably buy a great book about the history of NASA and space exploration. No, I probably wouldn't buy a t-shirt with a picture of the moon on it.I also do like Disney and Pixar. I have watched every single Pixar movie ever made. In fact, I own every one of them... including the original shorts from when Pixar first started. So, it's kind of right.Then we have the vague categories like BBC, internet television, telecommunication, and mass media. Am I interested in those? Well... yes-ish. But I cannot imagine any ad targeting where those vague terms would appeal to me in any way.My interest in the BBC, for instance, is as a media analyst. I don't have any special feelings towards any of their shows. They are good, but that's not why I'm interested in them.And then we have Porsche, but I will get back to that.The next category is education, and... it's weird.Education: Interaction design, founder, Sound, List of artistic media.Yes, I am a founder of my own company, and yes, I do think interaction design is important in the digital world. But these topics are completely useless in terms of advertising. Sound? List of artistic media?? What?Then we have the fitness category:Fitness and wellness: Walking.Here it thinks I like walking. I don't like walking at all... I find it to be absolutely boring. The only thing I hate more than walk[...]



Updating the Social Media Plan for the Age of 24 Hours

Thu, 25 Aug 2016 18:50:15 GMT

Back in 2010, I wrote a fairly popular article called 'How To Create a Social Media Release Plan'. There is still a lot of truth to it, but quite a lot of things have happened since then. So, how would we think about this today?

Baekdal Plus: Read the rest of this article in Baekdal Plus




Facebook Traffic to Publishers? Up? Down? Huh?

Thu, 18 Aug 2016 00:50:00 GMT

If you, like me, have been following the media sites lately, you will have noticed quite a lot of articles about how Facebook's recent changes have had an impact on reach.The problem is that the data we have is massively inconsistent, and the sources from which it is measured are almost always third party. But let me sum up what we have been hearing for the past couple of months.First, we have a study from Parse.ly that claims that publishers haven't experienced any drop in reach, but rather that it has increased.When measured across the Parse.ly network, the overall referral traffic from Facebook looks like this:And as they say:Parse.ly's network of sites includes more than 600 digital publishers, including many big names (Upworthy, Slate, The Daily Beast, Business Insider), so its experience is likely to be representative of news media more broadly.Meanwhile SocialFlow did a similar study, where they measured not just the overall traffic, but also the reach on a more granular level.Keep in mind, this study is from before Facebook's latest change (which some claim made it even worse).If we look at it overall, they report the same as Parse.ly, in that over the past couple of months, there has been no noticeable difference in overall reach.But then they also looked at Post Count, and found publishers have been posting more and more every month. In other words, the total volume of posts has gone up quite a bit.Obviously, if the volume goes up while the reach stays the same, the outcome must be a decline in reach per post. And this was exactly what SocialFlow found. When you look at reach at a granular level, there has been a 42% decline in reach, which is a lot.Mind you, one could argue that this isn't really Facebook's fault, since it's not Facebook that is posting these. If we as publishers just all stopped focusing on 'scale for the sake of scale', we wouldn't have this problem.And while that is true, it also illustrates how Facebook works. The way Facebook optimizes its engagement is like a supermarket. And every supermarket will optimize for the volume of goods rather than value of the individual product.I wrote more about this in "How a Growth in Social Engagement is Also a Drop in Reach and Loyalty" and also in my latest Plus article.This is something I have been talking about for more than a year, because the trend here is very clear. Social media - which was once a place where people chose to connect with us, and we used that connection to nurture our audiences - has become a place for random posts for people with very low-intent.Then we have a study from SimilarWeb. Every month they release their ranking: "U.S. Media Publishers and Publications - Ranked for July 2016", and here we see... well... it's a bit tricky.If we just look at the total list, we see that reach is down by 19.4%, which as you may notice is contrary to what Parse.ly and SocialFlow found (their study for total reach is flat). And when looking specifically at the top (excluding TV and others), SimilarWeb reports these changes in Facebook referrals:You will notice that the publishers who have experienced the smallest drop are also those commonly known for more snackable content, which matches what I have been seeing in other places. Facebook is increasingly only a relevant platform for a certain type of content.The problem with this study and SimilarWeb in general is that they are only measuring desktop traffic, and a 20% drop in desktop traffic over the past year might not have anything to do with Facebook. It might simply be caused by the increase in mobile, and especially people are increasingly using Facebook only via mobile.Over the past year, Facebook's mobile-only share of traffic has gone from 50% to about 62%. So SimilarWeb's study on Facebook reach might not mean anything.And if I only knew about these three studies, I would probably ignore SimilarW[...]



How Publishers Can Beat Facebook and Google ... or Join Them

Wed, 17 Aug 2016 06:42:31 GMT

When you look at the future of advertising for publishers, the trends are rather depressing. And it's not just one trend. It's a multitude of trends that all look pretty bad.

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Brands and Publishers: The Trend of Sponsored Content

Wed, 3 Aug 2016 10:21:49 GMT

Everyone is talking about sponsored content these days, which isn't really a surprise since we can't do traditional advertising (either print or display ads) with mobile. But there are two ways to look at this trend.

Baekdal Plus: Read the rest of this article in Baekdal Plus




How a Growth in Social Engagement is Also a Drop in Reach and Loyalty

Fri, 29 Jul 2016 09:35:36 GMT

Earlier this week, Jessica Guynn, Silicon Valley reporter from USA Today tweeted:Mark Zuckerberg says ranked feed on Instagram has gotten people to spend more time on the app and share more.The problem, however, is that this isn't what we hear from the Instagrammers. Instead, I am hearing from Instagrammers that they are having a harder time with engagement overall.So how can we have these two very conflicting messages at the same time, and why do we also see this on all the other social channels that have started ranking our streams (like Facebook, Twitter, etc)?Well, it's actually quite simple. Think about it like this.Imagine that you have a big supermarket, where each person buys, on average, 28 items across 11 brands on each visit. Now imagine that the supermarket isn't pleased with that, they want this number to grow (and who wouldn't), so they start to optimize how each product is presented, how they are mixed, and how people experience them.The result is a success (according to the supermarket). A month later it announces that people are now buying 31 items (10.7% growth), across 13 brands (18% growth).Sounds pretty good right?But what if we then look at the sale per manufacturer? With 28 items across 11 brands, they sold 2.55 items per manufacturer. But now, with 31 items across 13 manufacturers, they only sell 2.38 items per manufacturer (a 7% drop in reach).Also, now that people are exposed to more manufacturers, since the supermarket is now designed to favor as wide a reach a possible, the loyalty and connection that people feel towards any specific brand is now much less, which means that it is even harder to stand out from the rest.So, Mark Zuckerberg is right that, overall, Instagram has had an increase in engagement. But this doesn't mean that each Instagrammer on an individual level is benefitting from it (it's often the reverse).The problem is that all the social channels are optimizing for the same thing that the supermarkets are optimizing for, which is 'scale for the sake of scale'.We see the same on Amazon, where they might claim that people are now buying more, even though the revenue per publisher is going down. We see it on Spotify. On Netflix. In fact, we see it on every single channel that is based on scale.And one area where we see it a lot is with advertising. Google, for instance, repeatedly report an increase in total ad revenue, while at the same time are also reporting a decrease in ad revenue per click.In other words, as a platform it is earning more and more. But for each individual publisher displaying the ads, they are making less.The reality is that scale rarely benefits the individuals.The reason is that to win as an individual (publisher/brand/person), you need to focus on getting picked. You need to be 'the chosen one' so whenever people do engage, they engage with you.And, as an individual, you also benefit more from a narrow market rather than a wide one. It's far more beneficial for you to be picked within a narrow of publishers, because that means you will have to share the total market revenue with less of your competitors.Again, think of the example I gave you above with the supermarket. It's much better to be one of the 11 brands that people pick, than to be one of the 13 brands.Of course, this isn't exactly where the internet is heading, nor is social media in particular. With Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter and all the others, they are trying to widen the market as much as possible.This is a good thing while during their initial exponential growth. So many positive things have happened because of sharing. For instance, this site probably wouldn't exist today if it wasn't for Twitter, nor would BuzzFeed exist without Facebook.But the problem is that once this exponential growth is replaced by opti[...]



Are US Newspapers Still Stuck With 1990s Family Values?

Wed, 27 Jul 2016 14:59:34 GMT

The big news today, of course, is that Hillary Rodham Clinton has been nominated for President by the Democrats. This marks the first time in US history that a major political party has a female leader. And it welcomes the US into what is now considered 'a normal thing' in the rest of the western world.However, many US newspapers seem to be stuck in the old 'man's world' of the 1990s. For some weird reason that I do not understand, all the major newspapers either didn't prominently show Hillary on their covers, or worse, showed pictures of men instead.Here is one example from the Chicago Tribune. That's not Hillary!As many of their readers pointed out:What a great photo of Hil... - oh. Think you got the wrong Clinton there.And you choose to show her husband? What century is this??!!Was someone confused as to which Clinton accepted the nomination?Did you really do that? REALLY?Wait, so how come Hillary is not on the cover? Afraid to show the women of the world?!This is outrageous.Please tell me this is not your actual front page. This is a joke, right?And Chicago Tribune isn't the only one doing this, many large newspapers in the US did this too.But before I show you the other front pages, I want to take you back to The Tuscaloosa News, on September 23, 1995. Here we can find an an article about Wal-Mart pulling a t-shirt off their shelves that said "Someday a woman will be president".What happened was that one customer (yes, just a single person) had complained about it, which was enough for their legal department to decide that it was 'offensive'. And the reason given was that this message "goes against Wal-Mart's family values".This was only 20 years ago. How insane is that?You would think that in 2016 that this would be a thing of the past, and that women would now naturally be featured just as prominently as men. Right?Well, I already showed you the front page of the Chicago Tribune. Now let me show the front pages of all the other major newspapers:Wake up newspapers. This is embarrassing. Or as Justin Trudeau, said: class="video" title="video" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/LLk2aSBrR6U?rel=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="">There are a few exceptions, though. While The Washington Post's front page is full of men, its magazine prominently features Hillary. And La Opinion, Newsday as well as The Indianapolis Star did it right.And I will leave it up to you to determine if the front page from Boston Globe is a tribute to Hillary... or to her husband.Not to mention Orange Country Register, which does seem to focus on Hillary, but... hmmm...---Update: Seattle Times apologizes for their mistake:[...]



Okay, Okay... Let's Talk About Pokemon Go for News

Wed, 27 Jul 2016 13:08:43 GMT

As some of you know, when Pokémon Go first launched, I tweeted that I wouldn't spend any time on it as a media analyst, and that people could judge my indifference towards it in six months... which is roughly the time I give it to stay relevant for the mass audience.I still stand by this tweet. From a media perspective, Pokémon Go has no relevance whatsoever.But in the time after I tweeted this, I have been asked by quite a lot of people both about why I tweeted that and why I didn't think it is important; I have even had editors and CEOs questioning my role as an analyst by not analyzing it.So... okay, okay. I give in. You win.I will write this article about it. Or rather, this article isn't really going to be about Pokémon Go for News, but will instead focus on why Pokémon is a success, about the future of location-based news and augmented reality news. We will talk about whether there is something here that we use, and we will talk about the trends and the behaviors that make this work, or not.Okay?Pokémon Go as a game and a social phenomenon is amazingWhen I tweeted that I wouldn't spend any time on Pokémon Go, many people thought I said it because I didn't like the game. This wasn't what I meant.Pokémon Go is very interesting from the perspective of mobile gaming. And it's absolutely amazing if we look at it as a social phenomenon. And I have spent some time looking at it from that perspective.So let's talk about Pokémon Go for a brief moment... from a non-media perspective.First, let's talk about its success, which is due to a number of very specific factors.One factor is that the developers behind the game have a very long history with mapping and location-based technology. It was started by the people behind Keyhole, the company Google bought to create Google Maps, and the game engine itself is a product of years of experimentations.As such, Pokémon Go didn't come out of nothing. It's the result of 15 years of innovations by people working in this space.So when I hear media people (or others) say, "We should make something like this", I don't think they realize just how much has gone into Pokémon Go before it reached this point. Not just in terms of technology, but also in terms of understanding human behaviors, optimizing the social engineering, and generally refining the way everything works.You can't just make something like this out of nothing. This is next-level gaming development. We are way above the baseline that we usually see with mobile games or apps.Remember, before Pokémon Go, they had developed Ingress. What is Ingress, you ask? Well, it's basically the same thing as Pokémon Go. Here is a trailer, and you will notice the many similarities. class="video" title="video" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/X4hY0UBAmlo?rel=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="">So, why wasn't Ingress this huge success that we see with Pokémon Go? Well, because Ingress was designed as a 'secret agent' kind of game. It was something you did in hiding, which meant that it didn't really have the social element.Pokémon Go changed all of that by centering the same experience on lots of people doing the same thing, chasing the same spots, with each other and in public. In other words, Pokémon Go is winning because it's a social experience rather than a location-based experience or even an augmented reality based experience.It's the social element that has changed this from a niche game into a mainstream phenomenon. This is very important thing to understand.And the social element is huge. Take a look this video from the Sidemen and just feel the energy, the social experience and the excitement around it. class="video" title="video" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/ijjxfwf1zrk?rel=0" framebor[...]



The Problem With Cognitive Ease and News

Fri, 22 Jul 2016 15:26:06 GMT

The always amazing Derek Muller, from Veritasium, recently published a great explainer video about how we are all susceptible to "cognitive ease".Cognitive ease is the concept of which when you hear something repeatedly, your brain starts to form connections around it, thus making it easier for you to process later. And since we prefer things to be simple and easy, things that are easy to think about generally makes us feel happier.This has a lot of implications in terms of happiness, relationships, and life choices, but for newspapers it's part of the problem that we all face with the rise of the misinformed.But first, take a moment to watch the video: class="video" title="video" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/cebFWOlx848?rel=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="">As you can see, cognitive ease is an extremely interesting mental phenomenon, so what does that have to do with news?Well, the problem is that if we tend to favor and trust things that are repeated often enough, it can also very quickly be used in a detrimental way.Let me give you a simple example: after the failed coup in Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was quick to point his finger at his political rival Fethullah Gülen, and the media have spent the past week posting article after article with this specific accusation.Sure, many media articles have been critical about it too, but the phrase "Fethullah Gülen was behind the coup" has been repeated over and over again.Take the Guardian, where I counted 15 articles within the past day alone mentioning his name.So, I now give you three possible versions:The people behind the coup were a small group within the military that truly did it to protect the future of democracy in Turkey, after seeing how Erdoğan had eroded several democratic ideals. In other words, the people who were behind it were exactly the ones who said they were behind it when they issued a statement as the coup started.The coup was some big conspiracy orchestrated by Erdoğan himself to secure even more power. Something many have started speculating about after the massive purge of what seems to be innocent people afterwards.The coup was planned by Fethullah Gülen in a bid to take power.I don't know which one of these is the truth. For all we know, there might be a completely other explanation because nobody has provided any proof backing up their accusations.But now think about this in relation to the concept of "cognitive ease". If you take a look at the media over the past week, which version has been the most covered by the press?Yep, the third version. The newspapers have been absolutely filled with stories discussing the blame on Fethullah Gülen.So, the media is causing a specific version of the event to be repeated over and over again, without data or evidence to back it up, causing that one version to become the "easy choice" for people to hang on to.And, if you were to do a study today, you would probably find the same result as Derek Muller talked about in his video, in that people would choose to believe whatever it is that they have heard about the most.Mind you, I'm not blaming the journalists here. Journalists have traditionally seen it as their role to merely be the bringers of news. And since this is what the politicians are talking about, this is what you bring.The problem with that is that it assumes that people are informed to begin with. It assumes that if you merely tell people what is happening in the world, then people will have the mental insight to take a step back and make an informed choice of whether to believe in it or not.But countless scientific studies have proven that this isn't the case. Instead, what is happening is that if we in the media provide a skewed n[...]



Publishers and Their Future Video Strategies: It's Complicated

Wed, 20 Jul 2016 18:38:41 GMT

When we look at the future trends for videos, we see something that is fascinating, hugely misleading and frustrating all at the same time.

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Journalists not liking data is weird

Mon, 18 Jul 2016 11:42:14 GMT

As a media analyst, one problem I often come across is this sheer animosity from journalists towards data and analytics.One reason is due to fear. For instance, a while back I was asked: "How can editors survive in the future of data?" Which tells you more about how old media defines their role than any problem with the actual data.The problem here is that old media still defines itself as the bringer of news, in which the editor picks what you should see. But today, the internet is the bringer of news and the platforms algorithmically ranks what is most popular. And if this is your view of the world, I can see why editors think data is putting their role at risk.But this isn't really why we need editors. The real reason why we need editorial focus is to guide us. You will notice, for instance, that YouTubers don't have this problem.When Robert Llewellyn recently talked about CleanSpace, a crowdsourced air quality sensor that you can wear, he was not worried about the future of data. Neither in his reporting, nor in his ability to define an editorial strategy. class="video" title="video" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/4C1zjblLIyI?rel=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="">The reason for this, of course, is that he isn't defining his publication as a platform of random content with no editorial focus.Data forces clickbaitAnother reason that journalists don't like the data is because it forces them into publishing articles they don't want to publish. This is the result of what we see from the endless focus on shallow view metrics over the past years. As soon as you start to look at those specific metrics, you end up creating listicles about completely pointless things.This is an argument that I certainly can understand, but it's also the wrong way to look at it. The problem here isn't the data, but that publishers are measuring the wrong things.And let me prove this in three ways:One way to prove that we are optimizing for the metrics is simply to look at the 'revenue per ad view', which is generally in decline. In other words, brands are paying less for each view because the view is less valuable.Another way is to look at people's 'Confidence in Newspapers', which has now dropped (again) to an all time low.A third way is to look at what people actually want from the media. PEW did a study about this and found that the main focus areas in the media (candidate's comments, lives etc.) is not what people want to read. What people actually want is more focus on things that really matter, being their experience and stance on important issues.Isn't this amazing?But don't their clicks say otherwise?Yes, in terms of clicks, people look at different types of articles, but every single metric that counts tells you that this is the wrong metric to look at. Who cares what people click on the most if the result is a continuous decline in ad revenue per view, a loss of trust and confidence, and a growing annoyance by the public that the media isn't covering the right things?We are killing ourselves because we are looking at the wrong metrics. The problem isn't the data. The problem is that it's the wrong data. You don't solve this by data ignorance.Data is boringAnother reason is the perception that most journalists have that data is boring. I might be biased here since I'm an analyst, but I find this to be a really odd argument.For instance, back in April, CareerCast came out with their annual 'Jobs Rated Report'. In this we could read that the best job was to become a data scientist, while the absolute worst job was to become a journalist.This didn't sit well with most journalists. For one thing, almost everyone read this report [...]



How Can We Trust a Journalist that Lies?

Tue, 12 Jul 2016 11:17:05 GMT

One of the things I constantly have to struggle with as a media analyst is the culture that exists in media companies to lie to their readers to make something more exciting than it really is.Let me give you a simple example (there are far worse examples than this). A Danish news site (the Danish equivalent of the BBC) recently published an article about Tour de France with the title:Chaos in the commentary box: Wild Englishmen smash table in the middle of the sprint.It had a subheading that said this:DR sport commentator had to 'jump for his life' and the BBC had to think quickly when disaster struck in the middle of the sprint of the fifth stage.And in the article we could read:There is usually lots of stress in the commentator boxes during the final sprints at Tour de France. But it was still more chaotic than usual during the 4th stage.One of the BBC's commentators toppled their table, during their enthusiastic commentating on the final meters. Something DR sport commentator Henrik Fallesen experienced close-up as the English neighbor.'The enthusiasm of the close sprint was so great with our colleagues at the BBC that their whole radio board overturned. So I had to jump for my life, and people had to help hold the table which was making a dangerous amount of mass spectacle,' said Henrik Fallesen on P3.It sounds crazy, right? Wild people, chaos, tabled being toppled and smashed. What kind of hooligan is that?But then they also embedded the video so that we could see it for ourselves, and what we find is that none of this happened. Instead, while the commentator was gently leaning on the table, it slid out of the groove it was resting on, causing it to slide down.Nobody jumped for their lives. There was no danger at any point, or any damage caused to anything.Here you can see it for yourself: class="video" title="video" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/Xp5-5nnGVcw?rel=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="">In other words, that whole article was a lie.This is an absolutely terrible culture, because it erodes the trust that people have. More to the point, it devalues the connection people might have to the newspaper.Think about it like social interaction. How would you feel if someone you follow on Twitter was revealed to have told a lie to you... on purpose? How would you feel if this was a common problem with that person? Would you continue to like him... or would you stop following him?We already know the answer to that. In fact, we see every day how brands and internet personalities lose all their momentum when they are caught lying to their followers.But for some weird reason, the media never seems to learn this lesson. I see this every single day, and not just by the tabloids but also in the large respectable newspapers.This is a cultural problem, in that newspapers don't care about the reputation they have with their readers. In fact, this is not just about the reputation, it's also about thinking about their readers first.It's a cultural problem when you as a journalist think that misleading your readers for clicks is something you can do.It prevents changeThe reason I'm so obsessed about this is because it obstructs your ability to change. As a media analyst, it's my role to help media companies understand the trends and create a better future. That's what I do with Baekdal Plus and when I'm hired by a client to review their future strategy.But nothing I say makes any difference if the newspaper keeps lying to people. It doesn't matter if you have optimized for the new behaviors or change your editorial focus to make you more unique, if the content of the articles lies to your audi[...]



A Different Way to Think About Churn Rates and Subscriber Dashboards

Thu, 7 Jul 2016 11:32:22 GMT

There seems to be an infinite number of different ways to calculate churn rate, the rate at which you lose your customers. And yet it's one of the most important metrics that we have.For brands, churn rate can tell you whether your best strategy is to focus on acquiring new customers, or whether you should focus your attention on nurturing existing ones. But for publishers, churn rate is the key metric we use to determine loyalty.The problem, however, is that most seem to measure it in ways that don't tell you anything about what is going on.The traditional way of measuring churn rate is to look at how many members or subscribers a publishers has lost in a given month, and then divide that by the total amount of subscribers. So if you have 50,000 subscribers to a magazine and a churn rate of 2%, it means you are losing 1,000 people every month.And hopefully, your subscription rate will then also tell you that you gained 1,200 new subscribers, otherwise we would have a big problem.This sounds like a very good way to measure this, and in some ways it is. But the problem is that it doesn't tell you anything about who it is that you are losing, or why. Are the people you are losing older subscribers who have lost interest over time, or is it those same people you gained just last month who failed to see the value and cancelled almost immediately?We need a more nuanced way to think about churn rates. We need to look at the people who churn as individuals, and measure their longevity. We need to know who is it that we are losing.Imagine if you had to build a 'subscriber dashboard' that every journalist and editor could see, what would it say?Well, I would design it like this:Total number of subscribersThe most critical number to look for is the total number of subscribers, and whether that is going up and down. This number should be on the top of the screen.Total subscriber revenueAnother thing we need to see is the total subscriber revenue. The reason this is important is that a lot of people miss their payments (for many different reasons), or other circumstances cause the revenue to not match the subscriber list (like refunds etc).Another reason you want to include this is because it visualizes whether your acquisition tactics work. For instance, if you are offering people a 50% discount to sign up, your total amount of subscribers might go up, but your revenue won't. And if the wrong people then churn, you might end up with a negative revenue growth.I have seen this plenty of times with different publishers. Their focus on cheap scale increased their numbers, but ended up costing them money.So, you need both. You need to know how many subscribers you have, and how valuable they are (the revenue).The 'new subscribers versus churn' trendThe next important metric is the comparison between how many new subscribers you are gaining versus how many you are losing. And the reason this is important is that it tells you a lot about loyalty.Consider these two examples.Here you see two different publishers with exactly the same performance. Both have the same number of subscribers and revenue, and both gained 49 new subscribers overall.But then look at the difference in how that happened.The first publisher gained 1,242 new subscribers (or 30%+), which is amazing, but it also lost almost as many. In other words, this publisher is very good at acquiring new subscribers and creating initial energy, but it's terrible at keeping up the value to make people stick around. As a result, there was only a 4% difference between gained and lost.The second publisher only gained 58 new subsc[...]



Should Publishers Use Medium?

Tue, 5 Jul 2016 11:24:59 GMT

With the rise of Medium and its recent push into a more publisher focused model (as opposed to the individual focus it had before) many smaller publishers are asking if Medium should be their new home.

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Traditional Media Needs Influence-based Advertising to Succeed

Thu, 23 Jun 2016 15:17:46 GMT

The future of advertising, from a media perspective, is looking increasingly sketchy. If we look at the format of display advertising, we see a very persistent trend that the value of each ad view is getting less and less. This is true both for brands and for publishers. The value brands get out of display advertising, per view, is exceptionally low, and the overall revenue earned by publishers is dropping as well.

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Selling fear and the role of the media

Thu, 16 Jun 2016 11:59:33 GMT

You know when you hear about someone selling something crazy, and then you think about it and you realize that it's 10 times worse than that?Let me give you an example.I came across these tweets by Fortune Magazine writer Erin Griffith the other day:This is pretty crazy.But it gets even worse when you realize that this workshop is based on the combination of survivor bias, the selling of fear, and having no accountability as to if it actually works or not.Let's talk about the survivor bias first. Survivor bias is when the only data you have is from the winners, which Derek Muller from Veritasium explains well in this video: class="video" title="video" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/_Qd3erAPI9w?rel=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="">But I want to point you to another explanation, from Neil deGrasse Tyson. Back in 2012 (I think), he did one of his many talks during which he talked about analytics.And one example was this.Note: You can watch the whole talk here. This part is 40:40 into the video.At first this sounds really good. This shows that studying the exit locations will improve your chance of surviving a crash, right? That's what people think when they see this data. It was 80% of those who survived!But then you take a step back and think about what it's actually telling you, and you realize not only is this data completely useless, the study is also a massive waste of time, and should never have been done in the first place.Why? Because it doesn't tell you what percentage of the people who died had studied the locations of the exit doors.We don't have this data, because (sadly) those people are no longer alive, but without knowing the other percentage this entire study is meaningless. What if 86% of the people who died had looked at the exit doors?Suddenly, the conclusion you formed before is now completely invalid. Because, with this data, more people had died after studying the exit doors than the people who survived. Or more to the point, whether or not you look at the exit doors has no correlation to your chance of surviving a crash.You see how this works?Survivor bias can be incredibly misleading, because it gives you data that doesn't actually prove anything either way.So back to the "how to survive someone attacking you with an assault rifle" workshops. Those are basically a scam. It's someone who has come up with a way to defraud people, because when their students are later killed they don't ask for their money back. And if someone happens to survive a mass shooting, they might claim it was because of the workshop, even though we have no way of knowing whether that is true or not.The worst part of this, though, is that nobody needs such a workshop in the first place. It's yet another example of the increasing industry of selling fear.Let's look at the data.As you can see below, the rate of firearm-related homicides is in decline, and it's down a lot from 1993. The rate of non-fatal violent firearm-related crimes is down even more. In 1993 it was 725 per 100,000 people, today it's about 180 per 100,000 people.Source: PEW / CDCPeople are much safer than ever, so why would people today feel the need to go to a workshop about surviving an attack by a person with an assault rifle? It's an irrational fear because the risk of you being in that situation is incredibly small.You are statistically more likely to be killed by falling furniture than by a terrorist with an assault rifle, but you don't see people going to "how to avoid being crushed by a falling couch" workshop[...]



Facebook Launches VR images ... from 1995

Fri, 10 Jun 2016 10:47:20 GMT

There are times when I realize just how old I am, and I definitely noticed this yesterday when I heard that Facebook had launched Facebook VR images. It's a very nice feature, but I have a feeling of deja vu.It's not just that we already have VR videos, or that Google has long supported both 360 videos and 360 images, it's that I have seen this long before that. All the way back in 1995.And since it's Friday, I want to take you back to a time most people have forgotten about. I give you Apple QuickTime VR, launched in 1995 at the Apple Worldwide Developer Conference.Below are two videos of the presentation from that event, but you don't have to watch it all. I will tell you where the interesting parts are.(BTW: This was during the time when Steve Jobs had been thrown out of Apple and was working on the NeXT system.)In this first part, you can go to 12:20 where the first demo is revealed. And you see here that even without Steve Jobs, they had a knack for impressing the audience when they zoomed out of the presentation to reveal that everything they had seen so far was happening inside a VR presentation.This is something not even Google or Facebook has been able to do today. class="video" title="video" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/6XEDlgtLmAs?rel=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="">Then in this next video, they started out showcasing how you can use Quicktime VR to create interactive VR videos, where people could navigate around a store. And you really see this come to light if you go to 10:00 where they show you a demo of interactive VR to create a virtual tour of the White House. class="video" title="video" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/MYoGHWCXR04?rel=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="">I remember this very clearly, because this was the first (non-gaming) VR experience I ever played with. I had an Apple Press CD, and this presentation was part of it. And I was amazed. Here I was walking around in the White House, zooming in on the different objects and seeing a world that I would never see in real life.It was incredible.But the presentation didn't stop there. At 12:40, they showcased that you could also use QuickTime VR with 3D models and walk around a virtual building in any way you like.At 13:50, they show you how you could see a racing yacht in VR, or the conference center they were in.But then came the really amazing part, because, at 15:35 they pretended that the software had crashed, which got a good laugh from the audience, but it was all a ruse to show you that quicktime VR could also do video. Which they showcased even further at 18:50 where they show you that the video is VR as well. It's not just a flat video playing in a VR scene, it's 360 video.And by the end of the presentation, at 18:57, Apple took this one step even further when they showcased how they could combine all of this: VR interactive scenes, VR images, VR video ... and spatial sound that changed depending on where you are and in which direction you look.This is a technology that YouTube just introduced in April 2016, like in this video (which, for now, only works on your phone). class="video" title="video" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/dFq9wbrV-v0?rel=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="">Isn't this amazing? Apple did all the things we see today, and more ... 21 years ago.And because I very distinctly remember all the time I spent playing around with it myself, I have very strong sense of deja vu today.Everyone is talking about Google, YouTube and Facebook 360/[...]



Monetizing News: Where is the Money?

Fri, 10 Jun 2016 10:41:22 GMT

Last month, we took a look at the editorial future of local news, in "Completely Redefining the Purpose of Local News". In that article, I talked about all the things that are impacting the role of local news, why people need local newspapers, why they don't, and how to think about it instead.

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Accurate Analytics is Painful

Fri, 3 Jun 2016 11:16:50 GMT

Just a short note about something you should consider. As all of you know, I am obsessed with accurate analytics. I don't care about views or clicks or all that other nonsense. I want to know exactly how much influence I have, and I'm constantly trying to get as close to the most realistic number as possible.However, doing this is exceptionally painful and sort of depressing, because it also means that my numbers will be much lower than anyone else's.Let me give you an example.On this site I'm measuring this for each article:Server pageviewsPageviewsUnique pageviewsScroll starts (when people start scrolling)Scroll ends (when people reach the end)Scroll time (used to measure read-rate)And when we look at this for an article like 'The Increasing Problem With the Misinformed', which was fairly popular, we end up with this data:That's quite a difference, isn't it? But this isn't even the worst example. The worst example is this article:This is just insane!And, in the early days of this site, the way I did article analytics was simply to count the number of times an article was requested by the server, which is how many CMS systems work (including those at big newspapers).This gave me a rather impressive number that felt good and was fun to look at. I mean, who wouldn't want to see articles with a ton of views all the time? But, as you can see, this number is completely distorting my reality in the most misleading way possible.The RAW view numbers recorded by my CMS are total crap.So, we have to ignore the server-level data, and only start to look at the next level of analytics, which is the pageview numbers recorded on the browser-level (like with Google/Adobe/Comscore Analytics). This number is far more accurate since it doesn't include all the thousands of views that aren't from actual people (bots and other automated junk traffic).The result could look like this, which is the data for my recent Plus article 'Publishers and The Snacking Economy'.Keep in mind, Baekdal Plus is a subscription site and my audience is mostly media executives. This severely limits my traffic potential, because these articles never get any of the random traffic you would get with a free site. This is an insanely focused audience.But look at this graph and ask yourself, which one represents the most accurate number for indicating real traffic?Pageviews? Nah... that may be how many times the article was actually loaded into the browser, but it's not very accurate since it doesn't indicate number of people.Unique pageviews? Well, kind of... but look at the difference between unique pageviews and the number of people who started scrolling down the page. That's a big difference.Think about this as if you were running a physical retail shop. If you see a person walking into your shop who then immediately turns around before he or she even has a chance to look at anything, would you consider that person to be a customer?No, of course not. What actually happened was that this person walked into your store, realized it wasn't where she wanted to go, and left. That might technically be counted as a person, but it's not actually a visitor. It's a mistaken view.So, neither pageviews nor unique pageviews really tell you what you need to know. They are inflated numbers that may or may not indicate a real audience.More to the point, there is a huge difference between each article. Here, again, are the graphs from the two articles from before.As[...]



Losing Relevance, Unintentional Bias and the Media

Thu, 26 May 2016 10:40:46 GMT

Whenever I talk with newspapers, there is one problem that always stands out. It's not that print is dying or that everything is moving to Facebook. It's that people no longer feel that the newspapers are there for them.If you ask people "Do you think newspapers bring stories relevant to you?", only a tiny number will answer yes. Nobody else sees the relevance anymore.Mind you, this isn't a new problem. Newspapers have never focused on creating individual relevance. They have always been these disconnected packages of random news. And while this did work before the internet, where people only subscribed to a single newspaper, it just doesn't work in today's digital world.It's not that it's digital. It's that we now have more choices. Think about it like a bakery. If you are the only bakery in town, you can get away with creating one type of bread for everyone. But if people have ten bakeries to choose from, whoever just focuses on the simple mass-market bread is going to lose.It's the same with newspapers. They still publish as if they live in a scarcity.But the problem with lack of relevance isn't just about the choices and the market. It's also that newspapers historically have never considered the interest of their readers. Every day we see newspapers publishing stories that have no relevance to their readers.The problem starts with how journalists think. Every journalist I know has this idea that they don't have to consider the relevance of the articles they write, because that's for the 'business side' to deal with.I'm reminded of this tweet:To which he continued.And as Marc Andreessen, founder of the Silicon Valley venture capital behemoth Andreessen Horowitz replied:They are exactly right. The idea that journalists shouldn't have a responsibility to write something that works is insane. This is not how the world works. It didn't actually work in the past either, it was just that people didn't know any better. But today, it's pure insanity to even think this is how things should be done.Another problem here is that journalists are incredibly reluctant to explore their own markets. They have this idea that it would taint their articles if they knew what people actually wanted.For instance, at the recent INMA conference in London, the editor of Liverpool Echo said this:And in case you didn't know, Liverpool Echo isn't exactly doing that great. As Press Gazette reports:The Liverpool Echo saw a sharp drop in sales at the end of last year after what it described as 'the biggest shake-up in its 136-year history'.A major redesign saw the paper change its ethos to have less emphasis on crime and more on positive news. In the second half of 2016 it suffered one of the biggest period-on-period drops of any local daily newspaper, according to ABC, dropping 12.3 per cent year on year to an average of 52,389 sales per day.And this is down from 120,000 in 2006.Liverpool Echo now claims that their redesign has stabilized their decline (at least that's what they told everyone at INMA), but that isn't really what happened. What the numbers show is that after the redesign, they experienced a massive 12.3% drop, and only then did it stabilize.So, maybe he should start to look at the numbers.I'm sorry, journalists. But this idea you have that you don't need to consider your markets is a big reason that you are in trouble. And not just financially, but also in terms of how your readers think [...]



The Thing About Motherboard and Uber

Wed, 25 May 2016 17:36:14 GMT

Yesterday, I retweeted a link about Motherboard and Uber that has gotten quite a bit of attention in the media world. And since Derek Mead, the Editor in Chief, has now responded to it, I wanted to bring it here so that people could see the context.The whole thing started yesterday when Motherboard posted the article "Uber's Next Stop: America's Military Bases", with a somewhat unusual disclaimer:Motherboard is running a week of stories about Uber. We asked the company's public relations department what stories it thought the media should be writing, and this story was one of the things Uber pitched.I saw this, shook my head, and tweeted this:Mind you, this isn't a native ad. As far as I understand it, Uber didn't pay Motherboard to post this story. Motherboard did this on their own ... as part of a whole week of coverage of Uber.To me this sounds like a really bad case of Uber fandom.But, as I said, Motherboard's Editor in Chief has now responded, which came as the result of Cyrus Farivar reacting to my tweet, when he posted this.What followed is a short discussion between the two, in which Derek and Cyrus discuss this issue. I have copy-pasted the text here for easier reading, but you can see the original tweets in the reply-stream here.Baekdal: Seriously Motherboard? You asked PR what articles to write, and just did what they told you to do???Cyrus Farivar: I just lost some respect for you, @motherboard.Derek Mead: Article, singular, which is part of our Uber theme week, which has otherwise pissed them off. We wanted to know what they think of themselves, and a) reported it and b) were transparent about the idea.Cyrus Farivar: So what if you piss them off?Derek Mead: Oh, i'm not saying this is an olive branch. My point is that we're not running a slate of glowing stories. I don't care what they think about MB, what I want is to investigate how they workCyrus Farivar: I'll admit I haven't read through the rest of your Uber coverage but respectfully, that still seems irrelevant. [...] I appreciate the transparency but I do think that if Uber's POV needed to be in individual pieces then it can go there. [...] I hear what you're saying. If I was in your shoes I wouldn't have made that decision.Derek Mead: It's not their POV: we asked them what 1 story is that they think no one covers, bc it illuminates their thought process. That their idea of a touching story is signing up vets for part time work as a trojan horse for base access says a lot. And we wouldn't have gotten that story if we didn't ask them what they find interesting about themselvesCyrus Farivar: Alright. You've mostly convinced me. I concede the point. (Serious.) my apologies.Derek Mead: No need to apologize, I'm happy to discuss. We've debated this story for like two weeks (and are now IRL).And I too reached out to Derek to thank him for this clarification.So, to sum up:Motherboard is running a week of Uber stories as a theme, like what many other publishers would do around specific topics. And the stories are both positive and negative to give us an all-round coverage. This particular story was what Uber itself wanted to highlight, and Motherboard covered it with a very visible disclaimer.This is certainly a lot better than the impression I had of this before. However, as a publisher, I still don't feel this is right.I think my biggest problem with this is that it's about Uber. Why do a[...]



Why Digital Analytics Have Become so Complex

Tue, 24 May 2016 12:21:56 GMT

There are many truly fascinating things happening in the world of analytics. Today we can pretty much measure everything, in theory, and the number of data points has exploded in recent years.

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What's Up With Not Giving People The Articles They Ask For?

Mon, 16 May 2016 20:39:20 GMT

I have noticed something strange that more and more publishers do on their mobile/tablet sites. Instead of giving you the article you asked for, they will try to distract you to look at something else.Here is one example (of many) from The Next Web. They had tweeted about an article related to the recent discussion we had in the media about Facebook editing news, and I clicked on the tweet to see what they had written.But instead of actually giving me the article, they gave me this:You see what's happening here?Instead of showing me the article, they just give me the first part and then a 'Read more' button, which is then followed by some social widgets and a list to other articles that I might want to be distracted by.I'm not sure why so many publishers are doing this. Maybe there is some secret traffic tactic at play here that I don't know about, but it looks like the most stupid thing you can possibly do.There are two problems with this.The first problem is that they are assuming that the audience have no intent, even though they have all just clicked on a tweet mentioning a very specific story. In other words, these publishers seem to assume that people are behaving the same when they arrive at the site (after the click) as they did before they arrived (when they were just scrolling through their social feeds).The second problem is that this is forcing people to have the wrong behavior. You are encouraging people to have no specific interest, intent or loyalty by distracting them with random noise rather than focusing on delivering specific value.Imagine if a fashion brand started acting this way.You would see a tweet for a jacket, click on it, and end up on a page that looked like this:This is what these publishers are doing. Instead of giving people what they came for, you say 'who cares about that, here is some random noise for you instead'.Right?Why would you do that? If people are clicking on a link to a jacket, for what possible reason would you not give them that, with as much detail and value as possible? Have we become so lost in the art of optimizing for random views that we no longer understand how to bring real content to people?And, of course, brands don't do this. If a fashion brand did what these publishers do, they would go out of business, because acting that way would kill their conversation rates.You want to know what would work? Here is what:What you see here is an entirely different type of page. We are no longer trying to distract people to click on something else. We are no longer hiding the main product they came for. Instead, we are taking the best of both worlds and using that to our advantage.People clicked on a link to a jacket, so this is the main focus on the page. The jacket is shown 100%, we can read about the details, we can look at the pictures, and learn about its features.But then we take that a step further and say, "Well, the jacket is cool, but look how amazing it looks with this blouse and these pants." And we bring those products into the page as well. Not as a distraction, but as extra value on top of the already full value we got from seeing the jacket.This is how it's done. This is how you convert people. And this is (mostly) how brands like Peak Performance are doing it. I added a bit more detail in the above example to make it even better.But this [...]



You Can Either Sell Panic... or Trust

Wed, 11 May 2016 18:53:19 GMT

As I was looking at Twitter this morning, I came across this tweet from Penelope Jones, Director of Strategy & Research at Condé Nast Int.And since this might have been something serious, the journalist in me immediately started to look up more information. What I found was two things.Firstly, I found that it was just someone who had forgotten a suitcase on a bus, and the police had called in the bomb squad to check. There was no danger at any point. It was just another case of lost and found causing a tremendous level of disruption in our increasingly paranoid world.(BTW: And if you think a suitcase is scary, wait until you see what math can do.)Secondly, I noticed that several people and the media were turning this into a frenzy. Let me illustrate.Penelope took this picture, and here you see that people are just casually walking down the street, standing there looking at all the police, and with no panic or excitement.But then look at this:And in this article we find Penelope's picture, credited to the wrong person, with the text:Witnesses said commuters fled the scene in panic. Shocking pictures showed hundreds of commuters stranded as the incident unfolded just after rush hour.As Penelope told me:I definitely didn't see anyone running. Not even for buses ;)Or look at this from The Mirror:You should look at the video the Mirror decided to post. One person with an agitated voice is walking around frantically while everyone else is calm. The person then asks a police officer what is going on, and he responds, "It's just a package on a bus", which makes her go completely bananas saying, "OHMYGOSH... it's a bomb!".Not only is this completely irresponsible journalism. It also illustrates the dangers of not checking up on things.As Dmitry Shishkin, BBC World's Development Editor said:And he is exactly right. This is appalling. Not only is it appalling, but it's a fraud. The Mirror and The Daily Express are directly lying to people in order to get more clicks. That's fraud.Here is the thing about this.This will always happen. We will always have low-end publishers who act more like scammers than real journalists, just as we will always have people who will take things completely out of context and go bananas about it.The problem is that people are having a harder and harder time distinguishing real news and false news. Everyone in the media industry has seen the problems that we now have with the misinformed. We have all seen how the public is increasingly distrusting everything.This distrust could be a good thing if it was used constructively, but the problem is that it's used just to fuel the paranoia.The result is this graph:What you see here is that people, in general, have lost the ability to distinguish between trustworthy news stories and the fraudulent ones posted for the sake of clickbait.And this has a big impact on our society.Take this suitcase on a bus. Why are the police acting in this way? To keep us safe, right? Because terrorism is so scary and a much bigger problem today than ever in the past, right?Well, yes and no. They are doing it to keep everyone safe and to not take any chances. But terrorism is generally not a problem today (in the west). Here is a graph illustrating the number of people killed in terrorist attacks.Yes, there have been some big [...]



Completely Redefining the Purpose of Local News

Wed, 11 May 2016 11:57:36 GMT

It's always difficult to talk about the future of local newspapers and how to solve that market. It's not just the market that is in trouble, it's also that our very way of defining it has changed. This makes fixing local newspapers a different type of challenge than what we see in the rest of the industry, and a very difficult one at that.

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Who Said Long-form Doesn't Work?

Fri, 6 May 2016 16:00:54 GMT

One of the things that I'm really excited about is when I look at the traffic stats for my most popular articles. They are almost always also the longest ones. In other words, if you put in the work, long-form content absolutely works!

Here is a list of the top articles over the years:

- 2016 -

- 2015 -

- 2014 -

As you can see, the only one that stands out here is the one about in-app purchasing (which got seriously popular with 441,000 views). But I then followed it up with another more in-depth article that was 4,744 words long, or 18 pages, and that article was the 3rd most popular in 2014.

Mind you, I'm not saying that short-form content is failing, as such. The image below illustrate the popularity of all the articles I have posted this year (82,000 words / 500+ pages in total), and what you see is that both the shorter and the longer articles perform in a mixed type of way.

(image)

In other words, it's not really the length that defines the popularity. It's the content and the 'moment' it's designed for. But you will notice that the shorter articles are slightly less popular (on average) than the longer ones.

All of this follows several studies that we have seen recently. Like this one from PEW or this one from the American Press Institute.

Stop defining your content strategy by length. Define it by purpose, behaviors, needs, and moments.




When Will The Media Learn That Content Spam is Just a Gimmick?

Wed, 4 May 2016 12:50:49 GMT

(Please note, this is a rant.) Yesterday, as I was sitting down to get something to eat after a long day of writing, I turned to Twitter to see what was new. And what I found was that several people in the media were talking about this:Really?Yes, this is another completely idiotic live video from BuzzFeed, this time trying to blow up a balloon... and failing. After one hour and twenty minutes, they had to poke it with scissors to get it to pop. And then, when it popped, absolutely nothing special happened. It just looked like any other balloon popping.At that moment, every single person who had tuned in to watch this realized that they had been completely and totally wasting their time (you can check the last minute of it here if you, like me, absolutely didn't want to watch the whole thing).But that's not really what I'm annoyed about here. What I'm annoyed about are two things.Firstly, I'm annoyed by those in the media that are having BuzzFeed envy based on something that is basically just content spam.BuzzFeed Video is rapidly racing to the bottom of the lowest pit of content possible, and it's only a matter of time before people have had enough of it. It's fun for the first few times, it's silly and people are bored. But get to the 10th time, and even the dumbest person starts to realize maybe there is something else on the internet. Don't believe me? Look at the history of shallow types of content online. They have a life-span of about six months to a year.And if you still don't believe me, here is the video BuzzFeed Video published after the one about the balloon... about popping pimples. And no, I won't link to it.This is not the future. It's not even the present. It's content optimized crap, taking advantage of the shortest moment possible.Secondly, and perhaps even more important, what BuzzFeed did yesterday was just another copy/pasting of other people's content.Want proof?Here is a video that the very popular Slow Mo Guys posted one hour before BuzzFeed decided to do the same thing. And unlike BuzzFeed's video, which was just a bunch of crap, the Slow Mo Guys video is (kind of) amazing.Okay sure, it starts out pretty silly (and some might even say stupid) as well, but then wait until 5:30 into the video when they turn on their high-speed cameras. Not only does the balloon pop while a person is standing in it; the 'reveal' is of superhero proportions.Take a look yourself. class="video" title="video" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/5nGaXY5Gxy4?rel=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="">So, BuzzFeed took this concept, removed all the value from it, and just wasted people's time. When they cut the balloon, it just went 'pop' and then the show was over.You see the difference?And this isn't the first time either. Remember the 'exploding watermelon' BuzzFeed did a few weeks ago? Yep... that was the same anti-value concept. They wasted an hour of people's time placing rubber bands around the watermelon, and then when it finally 'exploded' it was just 'pop'... oh, the show is over.And this too had been created earlier by the Slow Mo Guys. This did this all the way back in 2012... and their video was much more amazing. class="video" title="video" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/PK8ds[...]



We Need Better Digital Media Studies

Mon, 2 May 2016 10:07:30 GMT

One the key reasons that it's so hard for legacy media companies to adjust to the digital world is because old media is defined by formats while new media isn't.And one place where we can see this very clearly is when we look at the many media studies. Almost all of them are format-based. This makes sense if you are measuring old media, but it's completely useless for explaining what's important and changing with new media.Let me give you an example.Last week, The Danish associations of media, Danske Medier, released its annual ad spending report. And, in raw numbers, it looks like this:First of all, there is nothing surprising here. The trends for where brands are spending their advertising budgets is as crystal clear as it can possible be, and has been so for 10 years.But let me just point out a few things.TV is smallOne of the differences between Europe and the US, in especially the smaller European countries, is that the European advertising market is far more print focused. In the US there is a massive market for TV commercials, simply due to the size of the country and the enormous number of channels available. But in Denmark, and other smaller European countries, TV plays a much smaller role... and always has.This has an impact on a number of things, one of which is that European brands have a much harder time adjusting to video online. Video is a format that many smaller brands have never really used before.The internet has long been the leaderMany publishers (and also brands) still think of digital as this new and emerging market, which, of course, is no longer true. This shift happened back in 2012, when digital became the primary channel.Digital is no longer new. It's now the default.Print was hurt badly by the financial crisisAnother thing you will notice from the graph above is that when the financial crisis hit in 2008, brands were forced to reevaluate their advertising budgets. This caused an immediate 22% drop in advertising spending on print. But look at digital. It didn't increase during the same period (nor did it drop).But then notice that, two years later, when consumer confidence started to come back and brands could invest in their future again, that's when we see the digital push.In other words, when brands had to evaluate their cost, print was cut. And when brands could again think about their future, print was ignored.This very simply illustrates just how much print has become obsolete.The drop is rapid and shows no signs of recoveringYou will also notice that the drop in print is rather dramatic, but let me show you how bad it really is. Here is what it looks like in percentages:Yep, this is almost a 50% drop in 7 years. And while it isn't dropping as much today as it did just after the financial crisis, the drop remains persistent and predictable. There is no sign that this will change in the future.This is a very common pattern for when things are replaced. First we see a dramatic drop when people realize the change is real, and then the remaining market just slowly fizzles out until it is no more. By 2021, it will likely be down to 25%, and that is only if another financial crisis won't hit us again before that.Think about what this m[...]



Stop Making Pointless Chat Response Systems

Thu, 28 Apr 2016 11:57:25 GMT

I want to make a point about all these new chat bots, because most brands and publishers are doing it completely wrong. And the problem is that they are all doing it like this:So... what's the problem here? Isn't this rather fancy and the future of chat AIs?Nope. Not even close.What you see above isn't the future of chat AIs. Instead, it's a simple voice response system like those we know from customer support hotlines.You know how it is. You call a brand because you have a problem or because you are not entirely sure which product to choose. And, instead of getting a person, you reach this computer who tells you to "Press #1 for [...]. Press #2 for [...]. Press #4 for [...]."You then grumble a bit, and press whatever number you need, to which it continues: "Please hold. You call is very important to us. Remember that you can use our automatic system for most questions, press #1 now to use that instead."Right?And people hate this. It's the most annoying form of customer interaction that you can have, done by brands who don't care about creating distinction, or having a passionate customer base.Brands use these automated systems to disconnect themselves from their customers, hoping that their existing needs will keep motivating them to do all the hard work on their own. And sure, in terms of tech support, where people have a simple problem that doesn't require human intervention, this might actually work. But for everything else, it sucks.So what does this have to do with Facebook Messenger and all these new chat bots? Well, everything! Because they are doing exactly the same thing.Take the example above from the fashion shop Spring, and just look at the options. Now, as you read them, add "press #1" in front of each. Like this:Hey Thomas! What are you looking for today? Press #1 if you are looking for women's items. Press #2 if you are looking for men's items.So, you press 2, and it continues:Super, what type are you looking for? Press #1 if you are looking for clothing. Press #2 if you are looking for shoes. Press #3 if you are looking for accessories.And, again, you press 2.Great. What kind of shoes? Press #1 for sneakers. Press #2 for loafers & slip-ons. Press #3 for boots.You press 1, and it says.Got it. What's your price range for men's sneakers? Press #1 for under $75. Press #2 for $75 to $250. Press #3 for over $250.And you go on like this, narrowing down your selection until you finally get a standard response back.Note: Screenshot from Fashionista.And now they ask you to:Press #1 to buy this item. Press #2 to see more like this.These chat bots might look new because they are on Facebook Messenger, but they are not. They are exactly as idiotic as the very, very old voice response systems of the past.And anyone who has ever worked in sales knows that this is a terrible way to get you to buy something. Even more so, it's a terrible way to motivate and connect with people. It's the random supermarket approach to selling.More to the point, it's linear, incredibly slow, and exceptionally limiting the amount of products people are exposed to. And if you ever compared ecommerce sales on websites with mobile, you will know how drama[...]



When Satire Is Really A Deception

Wed, 27 Apr 2016 13:51:15 GMT

In case you haven't noticed it, there was a bit of a fuss this week when Jeff Jarvis, professor at the City University of New York's Graduate School of Journalism, used his influence to force Esquire magazine to pull down an article that they claimed was satire.Update: I have added another section to this article diving into some of the common replies people made to this article. See below. Also note: While this article uses the Esquire story as the example, the point of this post isn't explicitly related to just that story. My article below is about satire in the media as a whole. How should publishers think about satire so as to not erode their readers trust in them.The first thing you think when hearing about this is 'that it can't be right'. How can a professor of journalism be instrumental in taking down a satiric article? Doesn't that go against everything we know as journalists? Aren't we supposed to protect satire as a form of free speech?Well, yes. But this wasn't satire.What happened was that Rurik Bradbury convinced Esquire to post an article under his pseudonym Prof. Jeff Jarvis, announcing his intention to 'join the innovation party'.It wasn't really offensive in any way, it just made fun of the whole tech world, and also Jeff Jarvis' fascination with it, which is no secret. Jeff Jarvis wrote (the excellent) 'What Would Google Do?' and is a frequent advocate of a pro-tech approach to journalism.The problem wasn't really the story, but that people didn't know that it was a satire. When people arrived at Esquire's site, they would only see the byline 'By Prof. Jeff Jarvis'.And this is where the problem lies.Let me say this first. Satire is a very important form of free speech. Nobody wants to outlaw satire. In fact, satire is often instrumental in raising important questions and topics that are often hard to convey using more serious forms of reporting. And our history is littered with great examples of satire that have both been in the public interest, and acted for the public good.If you don't realize how important satire is, just look at Turkey and president Recep Tayyip ErdoÄŸan, and you will see what happens when you outlaw it. It's scary as hell.So we need satire, and not just the good kind. We need satire because of satire. It's vitally important for a healthy and free society.The problem, however, is that satire is also a form of deception. It's basically a lie, used creatively to raise important questions or issues.And what makes the difference between something being satire and something being a lie, is whether people realize it.Let me give you an example from the good old days. I live in Denmark, and we have a long history of satire. One of greatest examples is from a show called 'The Circus Act' (Cirkusrevyen), where highly famous comedian have long used satire to make fun of other people.Here is one example of a Danish comedian, Ulf Pilgaard, having dressed up as and making fun of the Queen of Denmark, complete with a paintbrush and a cigarette. It is funny as hell.But here is the thing. At no point do you have any doubt that this is satire. Sure, he is pretending to be the queen, but[...]



Creating the Future of LIVE Video

Mon, 25 Apr 2016 14:22:52 GMT

We are living in exciting times. After a couple of years of very little change, we are now seeing three major changes to how we communicate and publish. We have the world of VR/360 videos. We the have world of AI chat bots (although few are either chat or AI), and we are also seeing the very exciting world of LIVE videos.

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My Advice to Boston Globe. You Need More Than Reinvention

Mon, 18 Apr 2016 08:08:20 GMT

As you may have heard, the internal memo from Boston Globe's editor Brian McGrory was leaked last week, and it tells a very familiar story. The Boston Globe is in trouble. They have started yet another round of 'innovation', but don't worry too much about the jobs that will be cut, they say, because the journalism is doing excellently.

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Misleading Types of Graphs For The Media

Thu, 7 Apr 2016 07:21:49 GMT

My friend Avinash Kaushik posted a wonderful article the other day about the importance of analysts to have a skeptical nature, and I absolutely agree with him. Skepticism, along with fact-checking, and a strong urge to take a step back to look at things from the larger perspective, is the key trait of anyone working with media strategies.But I want to expand on his article because there are several types of graphs that I see all the time, each painting a completely misleading picture. And each one of these is dominating the media landscape, and is constantly used in presentations at pretty much all of the big media conferences.So let's talk about this.The curse of the market share graphsThe first truly misleading graph is the one most people use to indicate market share of either their own business, their audiences, or the things that we use to get our publications to the market.For instance, take a look at this graph:Here you see two different things/products/whatever and how they changed from 2011 to 2016. So, what conclusions do you get from this?The conclusion most people come to is that the yellow market has experienced catastrophic decline, while the red market is dominating more and more.Right? Eh... no. What if I told you that the yellow market hadn't declined at all? And to prove this, here is the exact same graph but using the raw numbers instead of a percentage.What's actually happening here is that the market overall has expanded. The yellow market has experience only a minor growth, while the new red market has created an entirely new market on top of the old one.You see how bad this is? The first graph forced you to come to entirely wrong conclusions.So, one of many places where this is happening is when people talk about the rise of mobile. For instance, people keep talking about how laptop computers are dead, and the graph they use is the one below:What you see here is the same as before. As a percentage, mobile has been growing rapidly over the past five years at what looks like the expense of laptops. And if you see this graph (or those similar that are widely circulated by media executives) you may indeed think that laptops are dead.What makes this graph even worse is when it is backed up by graphs showing volume of sales, where, again, mobile is dominating. This should not come as a surprise to anyone, since we buy a new mobile at a much higher frequency than laptops... especially today where we have so many devices to play with. So, are laptops dying? Is it game over for desktop computing? Nope... not even close.Because here are the exact same numbers, but this time drawn using their real data instead of as a percentage. And what you see here is that laptop use per person is the same today as it was five years ago.The growth of personal laptop usage may have peaked, at slightly less than 3 hours per day, but it shows no sign of decline. What has happened instead is that we now have a new mobile market on top of the old one. It's not killing the laptops. It's extending it.Think about how many times people hav[...]



Future of AI/Chat: It's Time To Step Up The Game

Wed, 6 Apr 2016 13:20:05 GMT

We are living in exciting times because the very foundation of how we communicate with and consume media is changing. Last week I wrote about the future of 360 degree video and virtual reality, and next week I will talk about LIVE video. But there is another future that is equally exciting (if not more). It's the future of artificially intelligent chat robots.

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Brands Could Very Simply Create Better Instagram Ads

Wed, 30 Mar 2016 08:24:19 GMT

I will make this very short, but brands are making a very simple and yet completely idiotic mistake on Instagram, which both annoys and angers people.The problem is that brands, in general, are not really thinking about how they are doing advertising online. Instead, they are dumping ads on whatever platform they think can give them the best reach. This strategy (or lack thereof) doesn't work, and all it really does is to waste people's time, as well as advertising budgets.But there is a very simple way to fix this; let me show you how.First, let me show you a selection of posts that came up in my stream as I was browsing through it last week (when I took these screenshots):As you can see, these are all wonderful posts by amazing people, publishers and companies who I consider to be worth following. I really love Instagram. It's a constant source of amazingness.But now let me show you the ads that also came up:What the actual frak?These have nothing in common with the splendor of the people I follow. They have zero creativity. They have no passion, no purpose, no personal connection, no nothing. In fact, they are designed exactly the same way as the ads that we hate the most. They are designed to be 'banner ads'.Why, brands, are you doing this? Why are you advertising in a place like Instagram with ads that look like they should have been posted on some cheap shopping site that nobody cares about?Just look at how they look in between the real posts.Note: The ad says "cheap car insurance".Okay, granted, the ad kind of sticks out from the rest, which might mean people will notice it more. But the emotion of being interrupted with something this crappy makes people angry and annoyed.This is stupid advertising. And it's because of ads like these that we have seen this very destructive decline in how people think about advertising.So, do you want to see how to do it right? I have actually already shown you.You see, in the first picture I had included one post which was actually an ad. Here it is:Yes, this is an ad for Visit Norway, and it's great because it's just as good as the rest of the amazing people I follow. In fact, Visit Norway is so great that you might want to follow them to see all their other wonderful photos.It's such a big difference.Most of the ads on Instagram are made by companies who have no interest whatsoever in Instagram as a platform or the people on it. They just post their interruptive banner ads to get a bit of cheap exposure... and we hate them for it.But the brands who advertise on Instagram as an extension of their Instagram presence add to the experience rather than take something away from it.And this is true for all platforms.Look at advertising in a print magazine. In print we used to know how to do that really well and in a way that people loved. Here is one example from a magazine. Half of these pages are ads, but you are not annoyed by them because they carry the same value as the rest of the magazine.Here is the same magazine, but this time onli[...]



The Media Is Losing Its Purpose Online

Fri, 25 Mar 2016 11:41:37 GMT

One of the challenges that I often come across when legacy media is transitioning to their digital future is that they lose their identity and purpose in the process. The reason is almost always that media companies look at the digital world as a single market, and, as such, compare themselves to other media companies using very simplistic metrics.The result often leads to failure, or worse, a very monotonous market where everyone is just chasing the same low-hanging fruits.To put this into perspective, let me illustrate this problem using paper. No, not newspaper or even print. Just regular old paper.Imagine that you are in the paper business, a market with many nuances, but let's focus on only three of them. The market for kitchen rolls, notepads, and art paper.The first thing you will realize is that each of these markets is very different from the other in pretty much every way possible. They have different target audiences, different revenue potentials, different profit margins, and very different use cases.If we talk about revenue first, we see the market for kitchen rolls is all about scale. The profit margins on kitchen rolls is so low that unless you get really big, you won't have a business. As such, both the profit and revenue is defined entirely based on the volume.The other two, on other hand, aren't in the scale businesses. Sure, they want to grow as big as possible as well, but they are not defined by scale. They are defined by the value they create within each of their niches. As such, a company like Moleskine don't consider themselves to be competing with Procter & Gamble (the group that owns Bounty).We see the same when we look at their markets. Bounty is in the market of everyone, but nobody ever really cares about them. People don't love Bounty. They only care about the price and the softness (since nobody wants tough kitchen rolls), but most of the sale is actually based on availability and in store placement... and sometimes whether they like the picture of the baby or the puppy usually placed on the front.It's a product for people who don't really care (no intent)... which again, is why it only sells at scale.The two other products, however, are very different, but not in the same way. The Moleskine notepad is designed for some people who have that very specific need. In other words, it's based on intent. And, much of its use is designed around a professional audience, in that it's a tool that you use.Do people care? Well, yes. But the real selling point here is centered on the need.The art paper, on the other hand, is for an even smaller audience and it's designed almost entirely for people when they are just having fun. In other words, it's designed around their passions. This makes art paper an extremely high-margin product for people who care a lot.It's the same when we look at sales volume. Kitchen rolls are sold in extremely high quantities and it's something everyone needs every day. Notepads are something we only u[...]



The Future of VR and 360 Video

Wed, 23 Mar 2016 10:59:51 GMT

One of the things that everyone in media is talking about these days is the future of VR, and especially all the 'new' things like virtual reality apps and 360 degree videos.

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Measuring Impact Is Critical For Niche Verticals

Wed, 16 Mar 2016 19:45:10 GMT

There is something wonderful happening in the world of analytics, in that the trend towards far more meaningful and actionable analytics is picking up speed. And not only that, but we are starting to see more companies defining their business model around this new type of data.

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The Result Of Testing Twitter's Algorithm

Fri, 11 Mar 2016 20:31:20 GMT

On a number of occasions, I have urged people to do controlled tests of the value of their social stream for two reasons. Firstly, I want people to realize what these algorithms actually do, and secondly, I want you to base your insights on real data rather than just 'what you think'.For instance, when Twitter launched 'while you were away', I noticed many people saying that it was the best thing that ever happened to their Twitter stream. It was a sentiment that many have repeated now that Twitter has gone all-in on 'stream' ranking.And it's not surprising that they say this. Most people's stream consists of an unruly mess of irrelevant people, so having even a slight form of ranking tends to eliminate the worst parts. But while the worst content is removed, does that mean you also get the best? Or are you just getting the best average?Or, worse, do the social algorithms eliminate both the best and the worst, leaving you with a snackable middle that doesn't really mean much?So, let's test it.Obviously everyone's stream is different, which is why you should test this yourself. In this article, I'm just going to test my stream, but I am going to explain how I did it so that you can do it too.The Twitter Timeline Quality Test The first thing we need to do is to give our social stream some 'time off' so that it can accumulate enough content for it to rank. So I closed my Twitter app (completely) and went off Twitter for 8 hours. This means that when I returned to it, I had 8 hours of tweets that I hadn't seen before.I then started Twitter, and I wrote down every Tweet in my stream for both the ranked and the unranked stream (and I wrote down the ranked stream first so as not to do anything to change its algorithm).The result is this:Let's start with the unranked stream. Over the 8 hours, I measured 191 tweets in my timeline. Of those, only 26 were something I wanted to read about.This gives us a quality score of 13.6%.Having only 13.6% of the tweets to be 'worth reading' might seem low, but it's quite high. Try visiting any newspaper site and see what percentage of the articles on the front page you are really interested in. It's likely going to be much lower than 13.6%.Keep in mind that I'm very picky about who I follow. I only follow 321 people. This would obviously be a lot worse if I were following thousands of people.So, is the ranked stream better? Well, let's see:The ranked stream reduced the number of tweets from 191 to only 31. In other words, Twitter's ranking system removed 84% of the tweets from my stream. And of those, only 4 of them were worth reading. Thus, instead of only removing the bad tweets, it also removed the good tweets.This gives us a quality score of 12.9%... which is lower than before. Yep, Twitter's ranked stream made my timeline worse. Not better.More to the point, those 4 tweets that Twitter picked weren't the ones I would have chosen to be t[...]



The Increasing Problem With the Misinformed

Mon, 7 Mar 2016 15:17:55 GMT

When discussing the future of newspapers, we have a tendency to focus only on the publishing side. We talk about the changes in formats, the new reader behaviors, the platforms, the devices, and the strange new world of distributed digital distribution, which are not just forcing us to do things in new ways, but also atomizes the very core of the newspaper.But while the publishing side of things is undergoing tremendous changes, so is the journalistic and editorial side. The old concept of creating a package of news was designed for a public that we assumed was uninformed by default, but this is no longer the case.The public is no longer uninformed. They are misinformed, and that requires an entirely different editorial focus. When writing for the uninformed, your focus is to report the news, which is what every newspaper is doing today. But when focusing on the misinformed, just reporting the news doesn't actually solve the public's needs. Now your focus must be on explaining the news instead.So, in this article, we will talk about the rise of the misinformed using some really interesting data, as well as the threat to freedom of the press. And we will talk about how these two things are directly impacting your ability to succeed as a news company.Things are hardIf we look at the trends, we see that the newspaper is the form of media that is struggling the most. It is the format that is facing the largest shift, the largest change in consumer behavior, the biggest changes in formats (to the point where we are format agnostic), and the biggest transformations in terms of the purpose for its existence.The old concept of a newspaper, being a package of everything, has been decimated and atomized by the relentless new platform of the digital world. As such, newspapers have been reduced from being the entryway to information of every kind, to just... news.Arguably, news is incredibly important, but it's also a very hard sell. Why would you buy a newspaper to read that '3 men were arrested for selling drugs', which was the latest news article published by one of our national newspapers as I wrote this?Getting people to subscribe to news has become incredibly difficult, and so is getting advertisers to buy ad space, mostly because newspapers are no longer that platform to which everyone turns to be inspired.It makes a ton of sense for an advertiser to advertise in a newspaper if people are reading the lifestyle section. It makes no sense if the newspaper is mostly about low-relevant stories about crime and politics. That's not material that fits well with the intent to buy something from a brand.The result is that the newspaper is stuck in an existential crisis from which there are really only two ways out. One is to stop being a newspaper and start being something else. This is, in fact, what all the digital natives do. They would never start a ne[...]