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Strategic insight and analysis for people in the media industry



 



I Dream of a Newspaper Without Politics

Tue, 17 Oct 2017 20:07:38 GMT

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



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

Tue, 10 Oct 2017 12:51:17 GMT

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

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

Wed, 27 Sep 2017 14:45:29 GMT

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



Will AIs Replace the Media?

Mon, 25 Sep 2017 16:12:14 GMT

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

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How Editorial Analytics can Help you Define your Editorial Strategy

Mon, 18 Sep 2017 17:49:46 GMT

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

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When Journalism is Causing Unintentional Harm

Tue, 12 Sep 2017 10:23:12 GMT

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



The Trend of One: Can We Ever Do Personalization?

Thu, 31 Aug 2017 09:32:25 GMT

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

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

Thu, 17 Aug 2017 16:27:29 GMT

Earlier this week, Medium announced a new metric, called the 'applause'. But there are some problems with it, which tie in with a more general concern about how metrics on social channels force us to optimize for the wrong things.The main problem is the difference between what the public sees and what the author can see, which is also a massive problem with the metrics on sites like YouTube and Facebook.Here is why:If you haven't seen Medium's announcement yet, let me very briefly summarize how their new applause metric, using 'claps' works.Basically, a clap is similar to a 'like' button but you can click on it as many times as you want. So when you see an article that you really like, instead of just liking (or applauding) it once, you can just keep hitting the button and give it as many likes (claps) as you want.This is actually a rather interesting metric.We all want more detailed and granular metrics, and this is certainly a very interesting way to get that. And as the author of a post, you can dive into this as much as you want.Not only do you get to see the total amount of claps, but you can also delve into the data and see how many claps each person gave.This is pretty cool, as Medium explains:Since day one, Medium has had a goal of measuring value. The problem, as we saw it, with much of the media/web ecosystem is that the things that are measured and optimized for were not necessarily the things that reflected true value to people. For example, a pageview is a pageview, whether it's a 3-second bounce (clickbait) or a 5-minute, informative story you read to the end. As a result, we got a lot more of the former.On Medium, we've tried to provide more meaningful metrics. We display to our authors not only views, but reads (i.e., how many people got to the bottom of a post). We calculate time spent on posts and display that for publication owners. And we use all of this in our systems that determine which posts to distribute to more people. The goal is always to be able to suss out the great from the merely popular.To make this more meaningful, Medium has created the clap function, which works like this:Just click the 👏 instead of the ❤️. If you feel strongly, click it more (or just hold down). The more you clap, the more positive feedback you're providing to the author, and the more you're letting us know the story is worth reading. (Only the author can see how many claps you gave them.) Our system will evaluate your claps on an individual basis, assessing your evaluation of a story relative to the number of claps you typically send. All this will help the stories that matter most rise to the top.This all sounds pretty good, but this is only half the story. The problem here is that there is a massive disconnect between what the public sees and what the author sees.Public vs private metricsOn almost all social channels, we have a big problem with vanity metrics, metrics that look really cool, but underneath don't really mean what you think they mean.One of the worst examples of this is the view metric on Facebook (and to a lesser degree on YouTube). We all know that views on Facebook is one of the most misleading metrics in the world, simply because what they define as a view has nothing to do with people actually watching a video.The bigger problem with this, however, is the disconnect between the view metrics that you can see as publishers, and what members of the public see.The public view metric is this heavily inflated number, representing any view for any autoplaying video that happens to be in view for more than 3 seconds. So Facebook will tell the public that, for instance, this video has 4.8 million views.However, privately, Facebook also provides the publisher with much more detailed and valuable view metrics.For instance, they will tell you how many of those views are longer than 10 seconds (which is still a ri[...]



Can Your Readers Trust You With Their Time?

Thu, 10 Aug 2017 14:12:43 GMT

Trust has always been important for the media (even though most publishers don't seem to focus on it), but the way we define it has changed a lot over the years. And, today, trust is increasingly centered around time.We now live in this incredibly stressful world with so much noise and so many distractions, you will notice how people often comment "this was a waste of time" or "this is well worth the time".So, offering people value for their time is now a key element.This is particularly true when it comes to subscription-based media. If you want to convince people to pay, a critical element to promote is what you offer people in terms of their time. This is far more important than to talk about other features, or how much content you have.For instance, in the past, a magazine might promote their content as:Get full access to thousands of stories about hundreds of topics.But in today's world, this doesn't sell very well.The reason is obvious. Today we have access to so much information from so many places that just giving people more content instantly makes you think about information overload rather than something of value.A much better thing to say is how your content can fit into people's time. For instance, Highbrow, the high-intent micro-moment learning site I wrote about in a previous article, is offering you ways to learn in terms of time.Specifically, they have created a platform for 10-day courses that each take place over five minute emails.In other words, it's something you can read every morning over breakfast or during your daily commute.But it's not really that it's short that makes this a better selling point, it's the focus.At the other end of the scale, we see sites like FStoppers, which I have also mentioned in some of my other articles. They are offering people very high-end photography tutorials, with each series being between 5 and 20 hours long.They too are talking about time, specifically how this is time worth spending.Fstoppers.com has once again teamed up with Elia Locardi to produce a second travel tutorial titled Photographing The World: Cityscape, Astrophotography, and Advanced Post-Processing. When compared with Elia's first Fstoppers tutorial on Landscape photography, everything in this tutorial is bigger, longer, and more advanced. With more than 15 hours of video content, this tutorial will take you around the world to 5 different countries and 7 unique cities spanning from ancient architecture all the way to some of the world's most modern cities.Here is another example from another photographer. And again, we see how this entire presentation is designed to explain why buying his tutorial is worth your time. class="video" title="video" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/BqjuObIH1nY?rel=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="">Compare this to what most traditional publishers are doing. For instance, if you head over to the LA Times, this is their subscription page.Notice how, at no point, do they explain to you why they are worth your time. Instead, their selling points are based on features like 'unlimited access, a news app, coupons, etc.'However, there is also a link to a video presentation at the top of the page, "Watch this brief video to see why real journalism cannot be compromised."But when you click on that link, what you get is this:I'm not kidding. This is the actual page where LA Times presents why you should subscribe to them. It has a freaking ad for an airline blocking the entire screen!I can only imagine how many potential subscribers they have lost because of this.Not only do they fail to prove that they are worth my time, they are literally demonstrating that they are wasting my time. What's even worse is that when you click to remove the ad, the video starts playing with the sound off.And when you turn the sound back on, you then have to rewind the video bec[...]



How Publishers can get Started with AI

Wed, 9 Aug 2017 14:17:16 GMT

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

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

Tue, 1 Aug 2017 08:34:18 GMT

As a media analyst, I'm getting really tired of listening to publishers complain about how Google is using news snippets in Google Search (and Google News), and how several publishers are trying to push Google to pay a 'snippet tax'.There are two reasons why this is so tiring.The whole argument makes no senseThere is no money in it, even if you manage to make it happenLet me explain why, including trying to calculate the actual revenue potential.It makes no senseNewspapers argue that Google should pay to use a snippet from a newspaper because they are making money from it.From a general perspective, I actually kind of agree with this. As a publisher myself, I do think that the 'creator' of content should earn most of the revenue that content generates, regardless of where that happens.But this is not really what the newspapers are saying, because they are only arguing that they should be paid, not everyone else.In other words, newspapers argue that Google should pay them for using their content as a source, but the newspapers themselves don't have to pay when they do the same thing.We see this every single day.A journalist will write a story based on something they found somewhere else, but do they pay that source for the quotes?For instance, occasionally, a journalist emails me to ask questions for a story they are writing, and (depending on the topic) I sometimes reply. I don't get paid for that.So, why should Google pay the newspaper for linking to that story in Google Search, when the newspaper isn't paying its own sources?And why should Google only pay newspapers? Shouldn't they pay anyone, including all the bloggers, the digital natives, the scientists who published a research study, etc?You see the problem here?This whole argument makes no sense. Either the rules apply to all, or to nobody. The idea of creating a law that only applies to newspapers illustrates a level of entitlement that is simply shameful.There is no money to be gained hereThe second problem is even bigger, and that is that even if we managed to turn this into law, it still wouldn't change anything.The reason is, publishers in general don't understand how Google works, or how they make money.So, let's calculate the actual revenue potential newspapers could possibly get from this 'snippet tax'.First of all, Google is big, in fact, the current estimate is that Google is serving up between 1.5 to 2 trillion searches per year.That amounts to 125 billion searches per month.Google also makes a lot of money. In the last quarter, it made a stunning $26 billion, of which $4.1 billion was profit.Amazing!But, of course, this is for Alphabet as a whole (Google's parent company), and across everything Google does. If we look at only the money Google earned from its own sites (Google Search + YouTube), that results in $18.5 billion for the last quarter... or $6.2 billion per month.Of course, we then have to take out YouTube, but Google doesn't detail how much money goes to each. If you ask the music labels, they argue that almost all the money is going to YouTube, whereas news publishers argue it's all going to Search.I have no idea. But let's estimate that 75% of Google's own ad revenue is from Google Search and the rest is for YouTube.This means that Google Search has a revenue of $4.65 billion per month, of which about $700 million (not billion) is profit per month.Now, we can take the $700 million in profit and divide that by the 125 billion searches to get the profit per search query.The result is that Google makes... $0.0056 per search query.Obviously, I'm making a lot of assumptions here because we don't have exact numbers for Google Search alone, but this is the kind of figure we are talking about.You see the problem here? Publishers think Google is making a lot of money, and they ar[...]



Yes, We can fix the distribution problem

Mon, 31 Jul 2017 14:14:53 GMT

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

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I Miss The Simple Days

Tue, 25 Jul 2017 10:20:10 GMT

Let's talk about simplicity. One of things that we all need to do is to optimize our publications so that they work better. But at the same time, we also often see how over-optimization just takes the fun out of everything.The best example of this was something Derek Sivers said back in 2011 in his video (and book): "I Miss the Mob". If you haven't watched it already, you absolutely should. class="video" title="video" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/GFRLSAPnIG0?rel=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="">In his video, he talks about how optimizing businesses takes all the fun out of them. Instead of feeling welcomed and part of something, you end up feeling used and kind of violated.As he says:I was in Las Vegas for a conference, taking a taxi from the airport to the hotel.I asked the driver, "How long have you lived here?"He said, "27 years.""Wow! A lot has changed since then, huh?""Yeah. I miss the mob.""Huh? Really? What do you mean?""When the mafia ran this town, it was fun. There were only two numbers that mattered: how much is coming in, and how much is going out. As long as more in than out, everyone's happy. But then the whole town was bought up by these damn corporations full of MBA weasels micro-managing, trying to maximize the profit from every square foot of floor space. Now the place that used to put ketchup on my hot dog tells me it'll be an extra 25 cents for ketchup! It sucked all the fun out of this town! --- Yeah... I miss the mob.''The reason why I'm reminded of this is because I see this every single day. For instance, this morning I read an article over at The Telegraph about how "Former Doctor Who Peter Davison says casting of woman means loss of role model for boys".At the end of this article there is a quiz, where its readers can take part in this discussion by making their own opinion known. This is brilliant from an engagement perspective, but then when you click on it, the optimization takes over.I recorded a video of it (see below), but the first time I did this was actually even worse (before I recorded it), because that also showed a video ad after I clicked on my answer.In other words, this was my experience:I added my answerI was shown the result...which was then immediately replaced by a "see also" box...which then (which you can't see in the video) was immediately replaced by a video ad class="video" title="video" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/K_fAo6QPgO4?rel=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="">This feels exactly like what Derek explains.As a reader, I thought we had a moment. I was reading this article, I had an opinion about it, I decided to engage with it, but then I learned that I had just been tricked by another advertising monetization optimization tactic.Adding all this optimization noise is exactly like being asked to pay another 25 cents for ketchup. It just takes the fun out of it.And it's not like The Telegraph doesn't have plenty of other things on their page already. By just loading the page, 27 different trackers are triggered, exposing my 'attention' to several advertising and content recommendation schemes.But even with all that, they still thought this quiz needed another set of extra optimization elements. In that box alone, there is a share link, a 'like' link, a partner link, a brand link, two more social links, three content recommendation links and a video ad.That's just in the quiz!It's insane.The problem I have as a media analyst is that I can't really say that you shouldn't do this, because I'm pretty sure that if we just look at the numbers, this type of optimization probably works.It probably creates more social engagement and more social sharing. It probably increases additional traffic to recommended articles, and the video ad (b[...]



Can You Give a Non-Video Example?

Fri, 21 Jul 2017 14:44:52 GMT

This is one question that I keep getting from my readers. You want me to give you more examples that don't involve video.For instance, one reader recently emailed me this:Reading your last article, I had the feeling that you rely too much on video for your examples of good practices. The examples are valid and top notch, but I miss some examples of good content in other formats, text articles especially. After all, magazines or news agencies are not just YouTube channels.This is a very good point, and in many ways I agree.I'm very aware that many of the examples that I use in my articles come in the form of video, and from that, most of them are from YouTube.There are, however, a number of good reasons for this.Let's start with why I use YouTube video more than any other form of video.The simple answer to that is that they are so easily embedded into an article. And I have designed my CMS to handle it very efficiently. If I want to embed a video from YouTube, I simply write "youtube:[video id]" in my article, and my CMS will automatically convert that into an embedded video that matches the (responsive) format of my site.I can't do this for most other video sources, because here, either it's impossible for me to embed it, or... worse... when I do embed it, it breaks the layout (because many video embeds force a fixed width).It's also very easy to find good examples to use on YouTube, because YouTube is built around discovery.You can't easily find good examples on Facebook, because Facebook Search is terrible, there is no good way to discover things on Facebook pages. Similarly, trying to find something on a traditional media site is usually impossible, and trying to do any form of discovery on Snapchat (or Instagram) is just a joke.But these are just the technical reasons for why I use a lot of YouTube videos, another has to do with the trends.As I have said before, YouTube is wonderful in that it's often the place where new long-term media trends start (or at least mature). This is because YouTube is a platform for creators. So every single day, we see all these wonderful examples of creators exploring new ways of connecting, engaging and creating long-term audiences.This makes YouTube very different from, say, Facebook. Because Facebook is mainly focused on 'at-the-moment' engagement.So trends that we see on YouTube often have a much longer impact, and are much closer aligned with the bigger macro-trends of the media (all the trends that are important). Trends we see on Facebook are flimsy and short-term.More to the point, when we compare this to what we see in traditional media, we find traditional media are often five years out of date. So when a publisher is doing something new, the trend that made that possible often happened five years before on YouTube.This is not always the case, of course, and YouTube is still just a video site. But think about things like the focus on influencers, on how to connect with people, how to think about journalists as those who drive the success, how niche verticals are growing in importance, the atomization of media, etc. ...all of those happened on YouTube five years before we started seeing it in traditional media.So the reason I often don't give examples from traditional publishers is because I can often give you an even better example from a YouTuber.Then we have the need to make the articles flow.My Plus articles are very long (compared with what you normally see online). The average length is about 30-35 pages, and it takes about 15-20 minutes to read each one.This means that I have to write my articles in such a way that you get 'drawn in' for a lengthy period of time, and the only way to do that is to focus on the momentum of [...]



Making Journalists and Editors Relevant to a Digital Audience

Thu, 20 Jul 2017 11:58:17 GMT

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

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Rethinking The Digital Future of Magazines: A Case study

Tue, 27 Jun 2017 17:08:37 GMT

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

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The Analytic Connections That Define Intent

Mon, 12 Jun 2017 19:21:27 GMT

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

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Fixing Twitter by Blocking Trump... is Wonderful

Tue, 6 Jun 2017 10:23:37 GMT

Let me show you a very simple trick to make Twitter about a million times better, and also how to get Twitter 'back on topic' so that it can actually be used again as a tool for work. I'm talking about blocking Trump from Twitter.We have a problem.The media has this absolutely insane obsession with tweeting about Trump. Sure, there are some important news items that need to be covered, like when Trump decided to drop the Paris agreement, but most tweets don't have any real news.As a result, people are sick of it. Publications such as Quartz now have a 'Trump snooze button', and apps like Nuzzel have introduced a (very expensive) Pro plan, that allows you to block out things like 'politics'.This alone should tell you how the public really feels about what the media is focusing on. People are sick and tired of Trump, and they want something else.But the media doesn't stop, because Trump creates outrage and that in turn creates a whole lot of traffic. So, instead of thinking about the future, we have turned the media (and especially Twitter) into this sinkhole of despair.Just notice how many people tweet this:Wakes up. Checks Twitter . . . uh . . . Regrets checking Twitter. Goes back to bed.What we are doing right now is digging ourselves into a hole, because we are making people hate using the media. And this applies to everyone.I recently asked a friend of mine about it. He is one of those weird people who doesn't use Twitter, and also generally doesn't use Facebook. Even he was annoyed by the constant barrage of Trump related stories, most of which have no real information but feel more like an episode for the new low-end reality TV show: "Trump's White House".For me it's even worse, because, as a media analyst, I'm constantly surrounded by journalists and editors and, through my work, I need to look at what they do. As such, my Twitter has pretty much stopped working.This morning I decided to count just how many tweets there were about Trump (directly or indirectly), and it turns out that it was about one in every 3-4 tweets.That means that my Twitter experience is: Trump . . Trump . . Trump . . Trump . . Trump . . Trump . . Trump . . Trump . . Trump.That's insane!And I have started to feel sad about using Twitter, as in, it actually had a real impact on my mental state. Some days, I would wake up, read Twitter, see all this insanity about Trump, get angry, and then I would start my work.But because I was now in a negative mood this had a negative impact on my ability to write constructively and efficiently. And as one who makes a living from writing about the media, this is catastrophic.So, I have now (partly) fixed this problem, by very aggressively blocking all mentions of Trump from my Twitter feed.This is my current list of blocked words:Note: There are several ways you can do this. I have set this up in Tweetdeck, because that is the main way I use Twitter, but you can also do it for Twitter as a whole. Here is a text version of the block list.What this does is that it excludes any tweet containing any of these words. And the result is that, instead of 1 in every 3 tweets being about Trump, with the block in place, it's now 1 in every 15 tweets.It doesn't completely block Trump, because people often Tweet about him without mentioning him or his associates by name, but it clears out a lot.Some of the extra filters I added are because of how the media just can't help itself.For instance, you will notice that I have #Covfefe as a blocked word, because the media's obsession with Trump turned this into a tweet storm. CNN even asked a spelling bee student to spell[...]



What is the Best Monetization / Subscription Model?

Thu, 1 Jun 2017 14:40:15 GMT

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

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The Problem with Ethnic Racism in the Media

Mon, 22 May 2017 15:11:35 GMT

There are obviously both good and bad people in journalism, and there are good and bad publishers. And, generally speaking, there are far more good people in journalism than bad ones.Pretty much every single journalist and editor that I know is both highly skilled, ethical and tolerant people. Journalists who, just like you and me, get angry when they see intolerance happening around them.So, it's weird that the media industry has a massive cultural problem around racism. Both in terms of racial racism, ethnic racism, and gender racism.Let me give you just one simple example.A few days ago, I was checking up on the news in one of the big national newspapers in my country and I came this story block on the front page. (It is in Danish, so I have it translated via Google Translate here)What happened (from the looks of this) was that we six young kids between 12 and 16 had assaulted an adult couple, in an apparent attempted robbery, and because of that, our politicians (and the media) went into populistic overdrive to condemn that it happened.But they didn't stop there, they also turned it into a racist and intolerant agenda, demanding that young asylum seekers should not be allowed to go out at night.Why is this racist, you ask? Well, let me change just one tiny thing in this headline.Try reading this:By simply changing 'asylum seekers' to 'blacks', you very easily see just how racist this is. You cannot look at the actions of a few individuals and then use that to discriminate against an entire population group.This is unacceptable.For instance, in my country, a few of our politicians have been caught drunk driving, which in a few isolated cases resulted in them crashing their cars.So, using the same reasoning, should all the politicians not be allowed to drive?But this article isn't really about the politics. I'm not a political analyst (or activist). I'm a media analyst. So let's talk about the role of the media.Media racismThe problem that we have here is a combination of several things.I think we can all agree that the role of journalism is, in part, to represent reality in our focus, to make sure people are aware of that reality once they have finished reading a story, and also to protect the public from being misled.At least, this is how I would define it.And this is true regardless if we are talking about a newspaper covering crime and politics, or if we are publishing a fitness magazine for people at home.If I read a story about fitness, that story should be equally based on reality. Meaning that if the story claims that something is healthy for me to do, we have a journalistic responsibility to make sure that is true.The problem is that, in journalism, we have developed a culture that fundamentally violates this. Because instead of focus on reality, we are increasingly focusing on edge and isolated cases, often only covering the narrative of that single incident.In other words, we have given up on providing real perspective and insight about the real world, in exchange for the quick fix of reporting about smaller stories that don't really mean much.I can prove this in a very simple way.Researchers at Georgia State University looked at how the media was covering extremism, and it found a really troubling trend (in the US).Of the 85 violent extremist incidents that resulted in death since September 12, 2001, far right wing violent extremist groups were responsible for 62 (73%) while radical Islamist violent extremists were responsible for 23 (27%).So, far right wing extremists commit considerable more harm[...]



Understanding the Complex Macro Trends That Define the Media

Sat, 20 May 2017 13:09:20 GMT

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

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How to Present VR to an Audience?

Tue, 9 May 2017 15:23:46 GMT

Virtual Reality is one of the technologies that both have a tremendous amount of potential, but also struggle with the very high level of friction caused by the need for a VR headset.The number of steps people have to take in order to experience VR, from putting on the headset, to downloading the VR app you want to use, and to do all the navigating to actually get it started ...is just insane.The result is that today VR is not something we can 'snack on'. The mostly gimmicky experiments I have seen from publishers are just that. A gimmick that had a very short term period of fame when everything thought this was a new thing. But it's not a market.There is no future for short gimmicky VR experiences.In many ways, VR is similar to what we see with smartphones. In the early days, every publisher believed that the future was just to create apps, because then people would download them and it will all just be wonderful.Today, of course, we have learned that people really only use a very few apps. So while we all have Instagram, Twitter and Facebook on our phones, hardly anyone have or use apps that only have occasional or short term use.VR is the same thing. The idea that people will download a VR experience and then go through all the motions to set it up and prepare their headsets is just not happening.So, from a trend perspective, what I see right now are three things.First is the future trend, in which VR technology gets to a point where it no longer feels like a really cumbersome thing to use. For instance, the potential is much higher once we make VR truly mobile (like what Mark Zuckerberg talked about last year).But we are nowhere near this point yet.So, today, I see two other trends that define VR.The first trend is the niche markets for high-end VR use. For instance, we see a very interesting business market for VR, like when car designers can design new cars in VR, or how you can use VR in education to train future workers for a much lower cost.Those markets are really interesting.We also see the high-end market for VR gaming. Obviously, the whole first person gaming industry is perfect for VR. But we are not talking simple VR anymore. We are talking about a fully immersive VR experience where you combine high-end gaming computers with the best headsets, with multi hand interface control mechanisms.One example of this is the upcoming 'Star Trek: Bridge Crew' VR game, where a group of players can take control of the bridge of a starship, just like in the Star Trek movies.And it's shockingly good. Here is what some of the Star Trek cast had to say about it. class="video" title="video" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/romB8e5nMp8?rel=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="">Obviously, a game like this is the perfect example for VR done right, but the important element is that it isn't just a gimmick or something you try quickly. This is something you will be spending 30 to 50 hours with, if not more.It's a macro-moment.The reason I point this out is because what I see from publishers is always low-quality micro-moments. And that just doesn't work for a VR experience because of all the friction involved.If I'm going to put on a headset, it's because I want to spend a long time with it. So watching a movie as a VR experience is great. But watching a 10 minute thing from a newspaper? What's the point of that?So, the trend of high-end VR experiences is very interesting.But there is also a third trend.This is the trend of VR as a 'viewing' experience, where the [...]



Geeking Out Over Analytics

Mon, 8 May 2017 16:54:00 GMT

I had a discussion recently about the future of analytics, specifically about what new analytics trends that I'm geeking out about, and I wanted to share it with you.We are living in the most exciting time of all, because the world of analytics is going through a tremendous transformation. The old form of analytics is being replaced with a number of new ways of thinking about data. Ways that are far more in tune with how we humans behave.But let me briefly summarize the four different types of analytics that I'm fascinated by at the moment.The first one is 'scored analytics'.Scored analytics is a form of analytics where you try to measure the importance of an article (or similar things) by looking at the value of the interactions.For instance, having a person actually read an article is much more valuable than just having someone view an article. But it's not just what people do on the page that it's important, it's also how people get to the page, and what people do afterwards.For instance, a visitor coming to an article from your newsletter is generally more valuable than just a random view via Facebook. Having people share an article might indicate another form of value (although not always the type you think). And having people return is another signal as well.The problem is that, with normal analytics, all of these metrics are presented as single data points with none of them making that big of a difference.This is where scored analytics comes in. With scored analytics, you attribute a value to each type of interaction, and then you add them all up. So, one article might have a total score of 290, while another one might have a score of 470. Meaning the second article was more valuable not because of any single metric, but because of the combined value of all the interactions combined.This is a very interesting way of thinking about analytics, especially for publishers.The second type I'm fascinated about is 'behavioral analytics'. Behavioral analytics focuses on measuring how people behave, in order to give us a much better idea of the value of each interaction.Let me give you a simple example.If you are using Chartbeat, it will help you measure how much attention a page gets, but it doesn't tell you whether that was a useful form of attention or not. This is where behavioral analytics comes in.For instance, imagine you want to measure if people read a page. The way this is usually done is like thisHere we check if people start scrolling down the page, and then we also check when they reach the end. And the way we then determine if people actually read the article is by looking at how long this takes.If an article takes 7 minutes to read, but people scroll from the top to bottom in only 15 seconds, then they didn't really read it.This works fine for simple stuff, but it's not very accurate.A better model would be to look at how people scroll down a page. Like this:Here we observe that people started scrolling and then stopped when the next part of the article was in view. Then they scroll again, and stopped to read even more.This is a much better way to measure this, because now we are observing actual reading.The problem is that when you start to measure it like this, you very quickly realize that people don't necessarily behave this way.For instance, with my Plus articles (which are usually about 30 pages long), people often start to read them, leave, but then return later to finish them. So, I might see a pattern such as t[...]



The Future for Publishers in an Automated World of Machine Learning

Tue, 2 May 2017 17:23:06 GMT

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

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No Publishers, You Don't Own Advertising

Thu, 20 Apr 2017 15:32:25 GMT

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

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Publishers and Micropayments. We Completely Miss the Point

Thu, 6 Apr 2017 14:53:43 GMT

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

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Advertising Versus Fake News, Extremists and News

Mon, 27 Mar 2017 21:02:29 GMT

Unless you have been offline for the past week, you will know about a mass advertiser exodus from Google and YouTube with accompanying newspaper reporting against Google.So far, a large number of big companies have pulled their ads from Google over fears that they are used to fund extremism. At the same time, eager politicians wanting to win some quick votes and to look good in the press, were quick to give journalists juicy (but misleading) quotes, which the press saw no reason to fact check.Also, the person who has found many of these 'problematic examples' is a guy who has filed a patent for solving this problem, thus using journalists to drive demand so that he can sell it to Google.Add to that stories by the press itself, where they interviewed 'experts' who clearly don't know what they are talking about.For instance, the Guardian wrote:The ads help fund payments to the people who post the videos, with every 1,000 clicks worth about £6. Experts estimate this could have been worth £250,000 to extremists.Anyone who has ever used YouTube knows that this isn't even remotely true. This is not how YouTube works.But there is a much bigger problem here.The problem is that this trend doesn't really hurt Google that much in the long run, but it will decimate the news media industry. While the press is getting 'high' on bashing Google, they fail to realize that everything they say apply to themselves as well.This doesn't mean there isn't a problem with Google. There is. As I tweeted:Is there a problem with the ad tech market? Yes! ... Should something be done? Yes! ... Is this also 'Google bashing' by rivals? absolutely!So let's have a discussion about this from the perspective of a media analyst. What is actually going on here, and what is the real trend?YouTube doesn't work that wayFirstly, let's just get something out of the way here. Much of the discussion around why brands 'justify' pulling their ads from YouTube is based on the narrative that Google is 'funding extremism'.As I mentioned earlier, the Guardian claimed videos earn £6 per 1000 views, providing the staggering amount of £250,000 to extremism.Is this true? Well, no. This is not how YouTube works.Let me explain, starting with who gets the money.There is a misconception in the media that all videos with ads on YouTube generate money for the person who uploaded it. This is not necessarily true. The fact is that only YouTube Partners make money from YouTube advertising.I can prove this:Here is a screenshot of one of the videos I have uploaded to YouTube on my personal account. It's not about anything serious (I am just playing around in Photoshop), but it has accumulated 100,000+ views.But notice that before it starts playing, YouTube is showing a pre-roll ad for something on iTunes.So according to The Guardian's 'expert', I should have earned £648 (or $787) from this video. But how much have I actually earned from this? Well, the answer is ... nothing, nil, nada, zero, zilch.The reason is that I'm not a YouTube Partner. So even though an ad is displaying before my video, as the creator I get nothing unless I become a partner first, which requires you to have an 'eligible' account.Granted, that's fairly easy to do, but the point is that you cannot simply assume that just because there is an ad before a video, that this also means YouTube is paying the uploader. Th[...]



We Need to Drastically Rethink The News Startups

Thu, 23 Mar 2017 11:14:02 GMT

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

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I'm Genuinely Worried About the Future of US Media

Wed, 1 Mar 2017 21:31:21 GMT

As a media analyst, I have now come to a point where I'm genuinely worried about the future of the US media, because of how it has allowed itself to become completely distracted by Trump.Mind you, Trump is a problem. It's obviously not okay for a US president to call the media the enemy of the people, to continually lie to the people (often because he simply doesn't know what he is talking about), and all the other things. All of which absolutely is the role of the media to correct.But we in the media also cannot become the 'opposition party'. That is not our role, and if we happen to end up in that state anyway, the result is dreadful for the future of the independent press.Last week, for instance, I heard the Executive Editor of The New York Times say that: "Every time Trump tweets it drives New York Times subscriptions wildly" ... this is not a good thing.I mean, sure it's nice that the New York Times is growing and that they no longer feel they have a problem with their future outlook, but that is not what is going on here.What we are seeing instead is that the New York Times is only winning because it has become the voice of the opposition party. We see this in every single study.Here we have a study from Gallup that shows a massive decline in trust in media overall, but even more so for Republicans.But worse than this, when asked specifically whether people trust Trump or the media, Quinnipiac University poll found a scary level of polarization between Republican and Democratic voters.Only 13% of the republican voters trust the media over Trump.In a PEW study we see an almost total split between where people get their news, in relation to their political stand:All of these point to the fact that the US media is no longer an independent press, but has become a partisan form of media.Mind you, it's not like CNN, New York Times, Washington Post and others think of themselves as partisan media. They obviously don't, and the journalists are also genuinely doing a good job. But this doesn't change the reality that the public now sees the media as partisan.When Dean Baquet, the Executive Editor of the New York Times, says that his newspaper is winning every time Trump tweets, and that this has made them rediscover their purpose, he doesn't mean that they are being partisan. But that is still what is happening.All those people who subscribe 'every time Trump tweets' aren't doing it because of the independent journalism. They are doing it because they hate Trump and they see the NYT as their platform for opposing him.The NYT has become the voice of the opposition.This is not a good thing. This is not a success criteria. This is bad. Think about what this means for the future... specifically what this means for the future of the New York Times four years from now.There are obviously several things that can happen after the next presidential election, but no matter what happens, the result is bad for the media.First of all, regardless of what will happen, the next US president will probably be a lot more boring compared to Trump. So we won't have daily scandals and idiotic statements to cover. And since this is all the media is covering, we are right back to where we were 2 years ago. If you can't remember where that was, let me remind you:But it's actually worse for the med[...]



Forget Spotify for News. Let's Fix the Real Problem

Fri, 24 Feb 2017 20:07:54 GMT

The concept of Spotify for News is one of the things that keeps coming back. Over the past couple of months, I have been asked about this model from several publishers, seen several people talk about it on Twitter, and, just last week, Esther Kezia Harding of theMediaBriefing, wrote a well reasoned article about why Spotify for News is needed.However, I just don't see this happening, at least not in the way we think it will. Nor can I see how it would solve any of the problems that we face today.So, in this article, I'm going to illustrate why, but also explain and give examples of what we need to do instead to be successful.We don't understand what the media world really isThe first fundamental problem that everyone seems to miss is what the media world is about. When we talk about Spotify for News, the focus seems to be on only the publications from traditional publishers, like these:(Image via Jason Tester Guerrilla Futures' Flickr)I'm not talking print aspect here. I'm talking about traditional publications in the form of newspapers and magazines.We see this in Esther's article as well. Here she went out to The Media Briefing's Twitter followers and asked them how many different publishers people read each week, and this was the result:You see the problem here?The problem is not that people are saying that they are now reading between 9-15 publications each week, nor that you probably think this is a high number. Nor is it a problem that the people who likely answered are all media professionals and thus don't really represent the larger public.The problem is that this number is way too low and likely completely wrong on every single level. The way people define the word 'publishers' inside their head almost always means they are thinking of old media.Mind you, I'm not blaming Esther here because it's not just this study that makes this mistake. Every media study is making this mistake. The problem is that we don't understand the question.Let me explain.Take a person like me. On YouTube, I follow about 120 different YouTube channels... regularly, every week. On Twitch, I watch some other channels. In my Inbox I get about 25 newsletters per day, and on Feedly, I follow about 100 more sources, regularly. On Twitter, we all follow a ton of different channels. For instance, I follow The Media Briefing on Twitter. And on other social channels, I might regularly follow other channels.So, we are not talking about 9-15 sources anymore. That number only represents the traditional forms of media that we still follow. If you look at the actual world of media, we follow 10 times that amount, or maybe even more."But," you say, "You are the extreme. Most people don't do this." Really? Are you sure?Let me put something into perspective here. Variety has long been doing a good job measuring real celebrity influence, and each year they find that digital celebrities are taking over more and more of our world.Here is the latest list (from 2015), and all the ones marked in blue are digital celebrities that you don't find on traditional media channels.These are just the top ones, but there is actually an even more exciting world of online stars when you look at it in even more detail. On YouTube, for instance, we have people like Sara Lynn Cauchon, who runs The[...]



The Trend of Creating High-Value Snackable Content

Tue, 21 Feb 2017 04:21:11 GMT

When it comes to the fundamental trend patterns within the media industry, nothing defines it more than intent and moments. I have talked about this many times in the past, but in this article, we are going to focus on just one specific aspect of that: High-intent micro-moments ...or as we might call it, high-value snackable content.

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Flawed Metrics that Publishers Use all the Time

Thu, 2 Feb 2017 16:14:11 GMT

The problem with publishers (and brands) making the wrong assumptions about their metrics is well known, and it often gets in the way of meaningful change. Because how do you convince someone to change their path forward if they are convinced everything is already going well?There are many examples of this, but there are three specific metrics/assumptions that I come across all the time. So, in this article, I will illustrate why these three specific metrics are misleading. And with each one of them, you will probably realize that you have been using them as well, because we all have.Before I start though, I just want to point out that I am not going to talk about the obvious problem with Facebook views vs other types of views. We all know that the way different social channels measure views online is completely flawed and does not in any way measure what we think they do.I have written about this many times before. In 2015, I wrote: "You Can't Compare Facebook and YouTube Views". And, in 2016, I wrote: "A Hard Look at YouTube Views vs TV Ratings".If you are still comparing social media views, I suggest you read those ... because you really shouldn't be doing that.But, let's now look at the three problematic metrics:Social engagement cannot be used for sentiment analysisThe first problem is with how many publishers (and brands) are turning to social engagement in order to understand whether people like a post or not.Let me give a real example that happened just this week. A Danish footwear brand published a campaign that basically made a mockery of equality. They argued that women needed more than equality because they have to buy more expensive underwear.Yeah... that has to be the worst argument, ever. class="video" title="video" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/5xJI4zYR5o8?rel=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="">Predictably, many people got very upset about this, and this company suddenly faced a social media backlash. But instead of trying to mitigate the damage being done, they made all the mistakes they could make, and all because their marketing people thought they were doing alright.First they argued that the campaign was working because:If the campaign creates dialogue and encourages debate - as it does now - the campaign has already done something for the better.Yeah... no, that's not how this works. And people obviously didn't buy that argument. Then they did the worst thing any brand can do. They said things like this:We don't state that this is pro feminism. This is a shoe ad with a very ironic and humorous twist :)This ad is a commercial for our new spring collection (shoes) - it's very heavy on the irony and the stereotypes to make it obvious that this is in fact, nothing more but a fashion ad.In other words, they were just using this very important debate about equal pay as a way to get some cheap exposure so that they can sell more shoes.Here is a simple advice for you. Do not ever do this. As Scott Stratten puts it: "When something bad is happening in the world, you either help or you shut up." You don't try to newsjack important events for the sake of selling more products.And people's reaction to this was obvious. As one person put it:Oh please. you tried to jump on a[...]



How Would I Create a Newspaper from Scratch, as a Media Analyst?

Fri, 27 Jan 2017 09:14:02 GMT

One of the hardest things to talk about as a media analyst is the future of newspapers. The reason is that this is the part of media that is being disrupted the most.

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Nuzzel, We Need A Better System! ... And The Industry Needs To Get Back To Work

Wed, 18 Jan 2017 07:55:40 GMT

As a media analyst, I follow a lot of people in the media industry. I don't really follow journalists as such, but I follow media executives, editors, analysts, professors, and similar.In the past, following all these people was pretty great. My two main sources to follow stuff (Twitter and Feedly) gave me a very detailed and helpful picture of the concerns, the changes, and the focuses of the media world as a whole.But then we got Trump, and now it's like the media industry has completely stopped thinking about itself as an industry and now we only have a Trump industry.Let me give you just a simple example.Back in 2016, I started using Nuzzel. Nuzzel is an amazing service that curates the most talked about issues within your own network. When I started using this, it was one of the absolute best newsletters I got every day. It focused on the most important issues yet varied across the whole industry.But let me show you what it looked like this morning:You see the problem here?What used to be a great curation service that kept me up-to-date every day with what was happening inside the media industry has now turned into a curation service for "Trump said" articles, most of which have zero relevance to me as a media analyst.Granted, Trump and the whole fascist movement is indeed a problem, but if I wanted to read about that I would just go to the Washington Post. And there is more to the world of media than this... a lot more.This is useless to me.I make this point for two reasons.Firstly, I have a personal message to Nuzzel.Hey Nuzzel!Nuzzel, you are great and I love you. But you have been caught up in the same trap as all the other social aggregators in that you are only looking at the data and not the intent, nor the moment.This might have been good enough in the past when you were first starting out, but today it's decimating your future ... just like it has decimated all other social services.I'm at a point now where I'm seriously considering to stop using Nuzzel altogether, because you now provide me with more noise than value.You need to change your system in a number of fundamental ways. You need to add some AI that will allow you to understand the focus, the context, and intent of each article that you link to. You then need to give people a way to say that 'I'm interested in this, but not in that'.You also need to give people more nuances. People are not simpletons, we follow different things for different reasons. But you are adding all of those together into a single stream called "your top stories".You need to look at what people are actually following. Understand why, and categorize it accordingly.Finally, your "Friends of friends" feed is just crap. Not because of you but because of what it is. This is true for all social channels, and a big reason why social media is generally so noisy. This idea that 'friends of friends' is valuable is based on a world that doesn't exist.As Facebook discovered back in 2016, there are only 3.56 degrees of separation between people online. What this means is that we only need to go three and a half steps away from ourselves to be exposed to every single topic in the world.This is not usefu[...]



BuzzFeed Tasty is Fascinating

Tue, 17 Jan 2017 10:48:46 GMT

We need to have a discussion about BuzzFeed Tasty because, from a media perspective, it's one of the best examples that we have of what really works on Facebook, and how you can take that to another level. But at the same time, it's also a perfect example of why pretty much everything else performs so poorly.

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How Big Publishers Can Embrace Individual Media

Thu, 12 Jan 2017 17:08:50 GMT

We see a very exciting trend with individual media, being single personalities (or small groups of people) who are able to do the same as massive publications. And we see this trend all around us.

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Equality Starts At Home

Fri, 6 Jan 2017 13:26:05 GMT

Everyone knows that we have an equality problem in the media industry, both in terms of gender, ethnic and cultural bias. Most newsrooms is still dominated by white men. And the reporting is often male dominated, even when it's covered by female journalists.Of course, equality is more than just about matching the population, it's also about the focus. For instance, in Europe, many newspapers are focusing on stories about immigrants (both first and second generation), and yet, most newspapers don't really employ anyone with that insight or background.This is a bit of a problem, isn't it?If your newsroom is dominated by white men, focusing your coverage on non-white immigrants is probably not going to end well ... even if you try to be fair and neutral.But the reason I point this out is because I had this very discussion earlier today, and it got me thinking about how I am doing myself.I usually take pride in having an inclusive focus. 97% of my business is coming to me from outside my own country, from all parts of the world, so I don't think about people's race or gender. To me everyone is from this same place called Earth.But I'm painfully aware that most of my sources of information are heavily male dominated, and I don't like it. For instance, I just checked who I am following on Twitter, and the result was not pretty.Of all the people I follow, 55% of them are men, 25% of them are companies, and only 21% are women.I'm doing this as badly as everyone else. I might think of myself as not being part of the problem, but clearly I need a better mix of sources to follow.So, my goal for 2017 is to fix this... and hopefully within only a few months. But to do this I need your help. I don't know what women (or other ethnic personalities) I need to follow--- UPDATE (MAY 2017) ---Thanks to the help of so many wonderful people suggesting women to the list below (and in other ways, I have now achieved gender equality on my Twitter following list. This is the status as of May 2017:There has been a few things I learned through this process. One of which is that the harassment is very real on Twitter. I already knew this, of course, but you really see it when you try to do this.So many amazing women are choosing not to tweet, or to only tweet about 'safe things', which I came across many, many times during this process. This is a real problem, because it reduces the freedom of speech for an entire population group, adding to the problem of gender inequality.The opposite problem is that many women are so upset (and rightfully so) about US politicians, specifically GOP and Trump, that they tweet about nothing else. So, a lot of women on the list below are amazing people with amazing jobs. People I absolutely want to follow. But my Twitter stream is already so heavily dominated by Trump related tweets that I can't take it anymore. I don't want to see tweets about him every waking moment. It's enough that every newspapers basically covers him 24/7. So, I chose not to follow many women suggested to me simply because of this.I also chose to look at women in other industries[...]



2016 Was a Great Year. 2017 Looks to be Even Better

Mon, 2 Jan 2017 11:17:57 GMT

If you are working in the media industry (which is highly likely as a reader of this site), you might think that 2016 was the worst year possible. So many things went wrong in so many ways. And yet, from the perspective of the media, 2016 was the best year we have had in a very long time. At least if we can somehow avoid nuclear apocalypse caused by a tweet, which some in the media think is a real risk.

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How Do You Define Reader Loyalty?

Mon, 19 Dec 2016 13:20:49 GMT

Loyalty is an increasingly important metric for many publishers. The reason being that most publishers are realizing that ad exposure with low-intent social traffic is a terrible form of revenue. The race to zero is brutal, and the thing we call engagement isn't actually the same as economic success.

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The Populists Wins Because We Let Them Define The Narrative

Tue, 6 Dec 2016 11:01:14 GMT

There are so many articles being published about how to fix the future of newspapers in the age of fake news, populistic politicians, the rise of right-wing, racist and fascist movements, and all the other problems that we have.But while that in itself is a very important topic, we are also kind of missing the point. Because even if we could solve those things, it still doesn't solve the problem that we think we have.One example is the whole 'fake news on Facebook' discussion. Even if we could get rid of the obvious fake news sites, it still doesn't solve the problem that people don't trust the media.So how do we actually fix this problem?Well, let me give you an alternative solution that I see as being far more important to focus on. A solution that looks beyond just the narrow focus of the media, and instead looks at the macro trends that cause most of these problems:The age of entitlementThe fall of democracyThe politicians first focusEach one of these has a massive impact on publishers, and each one requires a very different editorial focus than what we see today.This is critical, because the newspaper industry is really not winning the future right now. True, the Washington Post and New York Times are boasting about their remarkable increase in subscribers, but that's a heavily polarized audience. It's nice that they are growing, but that growth is actually another symptom of the problem.So let's talk about this.The age of entitlement: "When you're accustomed to privilege, equality feels like oppression"The first problem is that we are living in what I would call 'the age of entitlement'.Basically, we don't really have any big problems anymore. We live in incredibly good countries, and the few world conflicts that we do have are of minor importance to people's everyday lives.As such, we have become incredibly privileged, and our sense of entitlement has grown to such epic proportions that the public is now focusing on increasingly minor issues to complain about.Let me give you an example from my country (Denmark).Denmark is one of the happiest nations on Earth, we are generally wealthy when measured per capita, and we have a very low unemployment rate at 4.1%, which has actually been going down for a long time.On top of this, Denmark has one of the strongest welfare systems in the world. We have free healthcare, subsidized child care, one year of supported maternity leave, and we have free education. In fact, our education is not only free, the government will actually pay you about $800/month when you go to school (as an adult).On top of this Denmark is the 2nd safest country to live in, with only Iceland being the safest country of all.We have extremely varied access to goods and services, we are one of the most connected countries in the world, our environment is very good, and our living standard is at the very highest level.In other words, we are incredibly privileged and don't really have any big problems to speak of.So you would think that with all this wealth of [...]



Let's Talk About Innovation for Publishers

Fri, 2 Dec 2016 10:33:51 GMT

One very positive trend that I currently see is that publishers are starting to get very serious about innovation. Over the past six months, I have noticed a big change in how mostly European publishers are talking about the future and the need to actually do something completely new.

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Understanding Your Audience: Visualizing Highly Advanced Analytics

Mon, 21 Nov 2016 18:41:25 GMT

There is a trend happening in the media world at the moment which is making me all giddy and excited about the future. It's a shift that I'm seeing within many larger media companies in how they measure their traffic and audiences.

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No, The Polls Didn't Fail Us

Mon, 14 Nov 2016 19:58:59 GMT

I had decided to hold off talking about the election versus the media until everyone had calmed down. It's not that we don't have a lot of work ahead of us (we do), nor that there aren't plenty of things to talk about (there is), but everyone is so upset right now that it's hard to have a constructive argument.But there is one thing that I need to address today, because it is about to mislead itself again. And it is the constant narrative over the past few days that 'the polls failed us'.This is simply not true, and blaming our failures on the polls is a lie. The polls were pretty good. What was terrible was our constant need for turning variable data into absolute facts.Let me explain:During this entire election, we have been told that Hillary Clinton would win the popular vote by about 4%, with a margin of error of about 3.5% on average.This was exactly what happened. Hillary Clinton did win the popular vote, and when the remaining numbers come in, she is likely to end up winning the popular vote by 1-3%.The polls weren't wrong about this. They were spot on.The problem is that this wasn't the narrative in the media. In the media we talked about the 'chances of winning', which we presented like this (this is from FiveThirtyEight, but other media had the chances of winning even higher):This might be mathematically correct in its theoretical form, but think about the narrative here. Think about what you are telling your readers.What the media did was take data that was about 50/50, and from these very minor fluctuations (well within the statistical variances that would render them irrelevant) we concluded that Clinton had a 71.4% chance of winning.Think of this narrative.We are not saying that Clinton 'might win' or that she would probably win. No, it's that she has a 71.4% chance of winning, a very specific and absolute number that makes no sense to report given the margin of error. And it's a number that is massively higher than the 4% lead that the polls actually predicted.It's the same on the state level. A constant narrative over the past couple of days has been that "State-level polls were all wrong."Again, no they weren't. They were mostly on point. I went over to the RealClearPolitics' polling database and compared the polls with the actual election, and the result looks like this:As you can see, generally the polls were pretty spot on and within or very close to ranges polled. There are a few outliers (which we will get back to in a moment), but the real lesson here is just how big the variances are.Take a place like Minnesota. If we only look at the polls themselves, we see that there was a 16 percentage point variance between them, predicting either that Clinton would win with 13 points, or that Trump would win with 3 points. And when we then account for the margin of error, we actually see a 24 percentage point variance between them.But this was then reported as a sure win by the press[...]



Targeting Advertising by Gender or Race is Often Hugely Problematic

Thu, 3 Nov 2016 19:57:10 GMT

One of the problems that we often don't recognize is just how powerful ad targeting can be in determining the future culture of a society. Or rather, we do actually know that advertising changes the way people think, but we kind of ignore the potential damage this might cause.Let me give you a simple example. When you place an ad on Facebook (or any other site), you are given a huge set of choices of how to target this ad. You can define a geographic area, age, gender and many other factors.This seems perfectly natural. Why shouldn't you be able to target an ad just for men, if the product you make is something that mostly men use? It wouldn't make much sense to target it to women, would it?Right?But this is often where things go wrong and causes damage to our society and our market. Not in the short term, but in how men and women perceive their options for generations to come.Let me illustrate this in a very clear way:Female scientistsAs we all know, women are making great progress as scientists. And, in many fields of study, women are now almost at the point of equality.Here, for instance, is a graph made by NPR illustrating equality of women in the fields of medical, law and physical science. And it's absolutely wonderful to see how much progress we have had since the 1970s.We see the same thing in computer science between the 1965 and the 1980s. Just look at this graph illustrating how the tech industry embraced women, and how quickly women started getting a taste for this new industry.And why wouldn't they?If we look at the early ads of the 1970s, we see how they are generally gender neutral. Computers were presented as a learning tool for both boys and girls, or as a new tool for the whole family. The result was that women were getting just as interested in becoming computer scientists as they were in other forms of science.But, as we all know, during the 1980s, there was a shift in how computers were promoted and perceived. Suddenly girls no longer played with computers. Now it was only a toy for boys. Advertising shifted to a much more male dominated focus, and computer ads were targeting only to men.The result was a rather dramatic shift in who wanted to be computer scientists. Since young girls no longer wanted to learn how to use computers, the share of women with a computer science degree dropped. And today, only about 17% of all computer scientists are women.This is scary because what happened here is the long term effect of gender targeting, and how it damaged an entire industry. And today, the tech industry has a massive problem with gender inequality. Not only are we struggling to get more women to code, we also see huge issues with harassment.So, targeting something by gender, is a massive problem.Of course, this is not just true for computer science. It's true for everything.Imagine that you are a company that is selling saw blades. How would you targ[...]



Publishers & Innovation: It's Not One Size Fits All

Tue, 1 Nov 2016 14:41:47 GMT

This article is a collaboration between Thomas Baekdal and the wonderful Ana Milicevic, principal of Sparrow Advisers, a boutique consultancy that helps companies scale, build relevant products, enter new markets, and navigate the digital world. If you are not following her already, you are missing out!It's not a secret that the legacy media companies have an innovation problem. We hear about it all the time. We see their innovation reports (when they leak), and we hear about their frustration of not being able to make a difference in the digital world.The reason why publishers are struggling with innovation is a combination of many things, so in this article, we will take a step back and draw a path to what we need to do.Before we start though, it's important to understand that it's your product that defines the foundation of any innovation. If you don't have a product, you don't have anything else.Think about the history of Coca Cola. Why did they manage to become such a huge success? Well, back in Atlanta in 1886 there was a new trend for flavored carbonated water, and pharmacist John Pemberton was experimenting with different types, called sirups. One of these was Coca Cola (or what became it), and he brought it over to a local pharmacy to see how people would react to it.The short story was that people liked it, a lot, and from there Coca Cola transformed into the $44 billion company that it is today. class="video" title="video" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/ToYfRlEDY_E?rel=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="">My point is that the success of Coca Cola started with that initial product. Everything else came afterwards. The marketing, the distribution channels, the packaging, the many variations, the other business ventures... none of that would have been possible without that initial sirup and its success.In other words, the product forms the basis of all innovation, and everything else is just layers upon layers on top of it.Mind you, many of these layers are very important too. For instance, one of the first steps was to move Coca Cola out of the pharmacies and into the soda stands. That was a pretty fundamental step, which completely transformed how it was sold.The media industry must think about products and differentiation in the same way. We will never be able to 'win the future' until we have a basic product that people absolutely love. Everything else is secondary.The problem we have today, however, is that our product is no longer relevant, and thus we no longer have a foundation for our media companies. Instead, all that's left of the media are all these extra layers that don't really work because we have nothing underneath them to make it all work.These extra layers might be just as important as the soda fountains, but without the base product, which in our case is the value, interest and focus of our journalism, we don't[...]