Tag Archives: Google

Experimenting with Google+ hangouts – live, interactive broadcast conversations

Google 的貼牌冰箱(Google refrigerator)

(Photo credit: Aray Chen)

Spending time on Google+ is sometimes a lonely thing. It’s the one-handed clap of the social media platforms.

But it has 170 million users who have “upgraded” their Google accounts and countless millions who may yet do so. But the potential for it as a platform is vast and there are good reasons professional and non-professional media organisations should take it seriously.

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#SIPAUK2011: Links and slides from my presentation on journalism, aggregation and curation

Today I’m speaking at the Specialised Information Publishers’ Association’s UK conference on a breakout session on digital tools for editors and publishers, in a session with my erstwhile colleague Martin Stabe, now an interactive producer at FT.com.

To sum it up very briefly, I was talking about curation, aggregation and the importance of transparency in online publishing.

Here are some of the links that I mentioned during the talk:

  • Ben Goldacre on why he doesn’t trust journalists that don’t link to primary sources (here, here)
  • Benoît Raphaël  of Owni.fr on the “Google newsroom”  - decentralising news production from a physical location and using free online tools to innovatively track trends, write analysis and use the wisdom of your audience.
  • Journal Register CEO John Paton’s excellent post of his excellent presentation at the WAN-IFRA Summit in Zurich last month. He really did reinvent the newsroom, the products and the business by putting online first and went from bankruptcy to profit by doing so. No gimmicks – he took costs out of the business, stuck print journalists’ ego with a big fork and focused on what matters.
  • Adam Tinworth on why there can be no special pleading of “our audience doesn’t get social media”.
And here are the slides:
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Guardian funds phone-tapping investigation… with adverts for phone-tapping services

Update 19.25: The Guardian has now taken these ads off its RSS feed, after I posted this article earlier today. Guardian News & Media tells me: “We have blocked the specific urls in question and are working closely with Google to prevent any similar adverts from appearing in the future.”

Original:I’m reluctant to post this because it is the kind of thing that could happen to anyone, but it does show the danger of auto-serving ad systems.

The Guardian has made a principled stand against the practice of phone-tapping at the News of the World in recent years and has uncovered enough stones, it would now seem, to prove that the paper’s defence that just one rogue reporter was involved in illegal activity, is a shaky position at best.

Private investigator Glenn Mulcaire told the High Court last night (as The Guardian reports) that he was commissioned by the paper’s head of news to tap the voicemail messages of football agent Sky Andrews.

On what used to be called Fleet Street, dog rarely bites dog and reporting on rivals is positively frowned on by most. So The Guardian’s stand on this is welcome.

It’s just a shame about the Google Ads I was served this morning on Google Reader, which advertise services that can “tap cellphone calls undetected”: (click for bigger view):

The Guardian's phonetap GoogleAds

Betfair, Google and digital competition

Image representing Google as depicted in Crunc...
Image via CrunchBase

An article for TheMediaBriefing, on the parallels between the success of the newly public Betfair – and the criticism it attracts – and digital media companies like Google. Here’s an excerpt…

Betfair revenue was up 13 percent to £341 million in 2009/10. The technology underpinning the system is second-to-none. The company claims that in the year to April 30, it averaged more than five million transactions per day - more than all the daily transactions conducted on European stock exchanges put together (via Marketwatch).

All is going swimmingly.

So no surprise then that the incumbant betting scions are not happy. William Hill’s CEO Ralph Topping wants Betfair to reveal more about its algorithm and, specifically, who bets on the site (via Telegraph.co.uk). And check out this diatribe from the British Horseracing Association, which wants Betfair to contribute more cash to the sport:

“We would entirely agree that Betfair has been ‘disruptive’ and ‘fundamentally changed the sports betting market’. Whether intended or not, it has certainly disrupted British Racing’s finances, and has created severe consequences. It has indeed, for its customers, ‘eliminated the need for a traditional bookmaker’, and markets itself as ‘cutting out the middle man’. At the same time Betfair has argued it should be treated as a traditional bookmaker for the purposes of its contribution to our sport. Betfair cannot have it both ways.”

Sound familiar? Anyone that has been watching the news industry’s reaction to Google’s rise in the last decade will recognise this argument, which is essentially: “You’re spoiling this for everyone because your system is more efficient, effective and innovative than ours.”

Read the post in full right here.

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Smoke and Mirrors: Why the Daily Mirror will not build a paywall

Daily Mirror front page, 2 December 1976
Image via Wikipedia

The headline on Marketing’s website reads: “Daily Mirror’s plans online paywall“. The Twittersphere alights with it-won’t-workisms. The article says:

Executives at parent group Trinity Mirror are finalising which content to charge for on Mirror.co.uk and Sundaymirror.co.uk. Final details of the strategy are expected to be confirmed later this year.

Daily Mirror columnists, including political writer Paul Routledge and sports columnist Oliver Holt, will provide the foundation for the title’s premium content strategy. However, the Daily Mirror’s general news will remain free.

But wait: the headline on Wednesday morning now reads: “Daily Mirror’s plans for online content charges revealed (The old version is handily immortalised on TheMediaBriefing plus still appears in the article’s URL).

Leaving aside the fact that the headline promises the revelation of “plans” but then reveals that said plans are yet to be revealed, this talk of paywalls doesn’t add up. Here’s the problem with stories like this: There is no one-size-fits-all solution; to charge for content is not to erect a paywall.

The Times, Sunday Times and News of the World have genuinely built paywalls: three (mostly) impenetrable barriers to all their content.

The FT and Wall Street Journal have something similar, but offer some content for free: more of a pay-picket fence, or a members’ club with very restricted opening hours for non-members. The wall comes down at certain points, but it’s still a wall. Countless B2B titles and other content producers have different models still.

Editors’ Weblog has it that these plans are being finalised, but I’ve spoken to more than one person at Trinity Mirror and right now, while nothing is ruled out, not much has been finally agreed. But it’s safe to say Trinity is not keen on the idea of all-encompassing walls. In fact, it’s not all about monetising content through a simple fee for news and comment – but about making the most of relationships with readers through games and niche products. NMA’s article spells it out:

The publisher, which has traditionally been opposed to paywalls, said that while it won’t charge for ‘ubiquitous news’ which sites like the BBC provide for free, it is looking into a range of options for growth, including testing the appetite for paid-for content around its sport and entertainment verticals, 3am and Mirror Football.

Group head of digital Paul Hood tells NMA:

As we learn more about our player base, and as they give us more information about themselves, we can use our rich archive of content to hook them deeper into the Mirror Football site and convert them from casual readers to committed fans.

Doesn’t sound very wall-like to me. In fact it’s pretty much what Trinity Mirror CEO Sly Bailey has been saying for some time, such as during this earnings call in March (via paidContent:UK):

There will be some opportunities to charge for specific content but we don’t think a paywall around everything is the right strategy

The digital paid content debate cannot be reduced to a simple binary choice between “paywall” and “no paywall”. TheMediaBriefing’s forthcoming paywall report, written by Peter Kirwan (and available to order with an early bird discount right now), tackles this head-on and concludes that there are in fact six discernible online paid content models, not one.

Given that the Mirror has charged for its print edition for more than a century, executives don’t see charging for other products (note: plural) as particularly different. That doesn’t mean the Mirror can’t also sell advertising against its paid digital products, although convincing advertisers to do so is now a central challenge for the entire industry.

A wall with no Mirror

But what I don’t think will happen is that the Mirror sets up a universal, lock-down walled garden and take itself away from Google and the public stream of recommendations and personal networks.

And it’s also mistake to compare the challenges facing  Trinity Mirror’s three four national titles (Mirror, Sunday Mirror, Daily Record, the People) with News Corp’s predicament: all of News International’s decisions are being driven by owner Rupert Murdoch’s ideological scheme across all of his empire – it’s a war against Google, whom he accuses of leeching from his journalists’ hard work, and the devaluation of content by our copy-and-paste global digital culture.

There is more than one option when it comes to monetising content and relationships. I hope the conversation and coverage around this debate recognises that.

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It’s not about selling news, it’s about keeping customers

The new-look, paid-for Times website

The paywall debate has focused on how consumers might consume the news industry’s end product: news. “Will readers pay for news online?” “Will the industry survive this change?” “Won’t people just get it for free someplace else?”

These are the news industry’s Frequently Asked Questions right now. Even people that don’t believe in Rupert Murd och‘s pile-’em-high subscription strategy – free content activist Guardian News & Media to name one – want to know whether TheTimes.co.uk will be a success.

But paywalls do not sprout overnight, they need real planning. Just look at my old colleague Martin Stabe’s presentation at SIPA on the nuts and bolts of implementing subscriptions at Emap’s Retail Week magazine. So here are some other questions it might be worth asking.
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Advertising with Addiply: no more Rochdale car ads

Rochdale badge
Image via Wikipedia

I’ve always been a fan of “the practice what you preach” maxim. After writing about it, speaking to its creator and watching its gradual but promising growth, I’ve signed up this site to the advertising platform Addiply.

Those red boxes on the sidebar are available for text ads at £0.50 a week; a banner ad (see below) is also available for £0.50 a week. It’s not much, but it’s something.

I don’t expect or intend to get rich through this site or through online ads in general. But hosting isn’t free. And if there’s a way to help advertisers get their message across, I’m happy to help.

Addiply founder Rick Waghorn – whom I first wrote about my then colleague Martin Stabe wrote about exactly three years ago when he left the Norwich Evening News to concentrate on digital publishing – took me to task last week for hosting Google Ads which do nothing for either my meagre revenue or for the community I write about/for.

Ads for cars in Rochdale don’t say much about what I do, he rightly says. The £6 I’ve earned so far from AdSense would suggest it’s never going to be a significant earner. With any luck, to prove the point, this panel should show up something equally irrelevant:

[ad#Google Adsense]

And though Addiply has been more closely associated with the “hyperlocal” movement of blogs and sites that cover tightly defined geographies that are increasingly ignored by anemic local papers – check out the Lichfield Blog‘s healthy looking inventory – there’s no reason it can’t work on niche, industry-specific sites either.

As I look to advise clients on what ad platforms to use and why, I can now report to them that Addiply is fast, simple and transparent. But as Rick is fond of saying, you have to sell the space to really make it work…. so if you’d like to advertise to a growing band of 2,000(ish) readers a month, take a look at what’s on offer.

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Is News Over? City University journalism chief George Brock says journalists should accept changed world

Update: Watch the whole video at this link (not embeddable, unfortunately).

Journalists still have a vital role to play in society as independent, informed, editors, finders and defenders of facts. No amount of algorithmic authority will change the vital role of reporters to hold authority to account.

All that’s according to George Brock, the recently-installed head of journalism at City University London who at an inaugural keynote lecture at City on Wednesday (read the whole thing in full here) made a staunch defence of the craft and trade of newsgathering, which has and is being so battered by a comprehensive, permanent technological and economic upheaval.

Brock was a senior editor of The Times and its international editor in a 28-year career there, during which he played a key role in launching Times Online. So he knows what he’s talking about and much of his argument is sound. Read on after the jump…

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