Anthony Moor

Exploring Media in Transformation | Transforming in Media Exploration

/ˌtrænsfərˈmeɪʃən/ n. 1: a process of change from one form to another.

Filtering by Category: Business Models

Did Yahoo! pull a fast one on the papers?

Yahoo!, which is the primary reason a host of newspapers formed an entity known as the Newspaper Consortium a few years back, is making some moves that analysts rightly indicate should cause the newspapers some indigestion.

They've struck a deal with AT&T to use the phone company's local sales force to sell ads on Yahoo's ad platform known as APT.  That platform was built with the papers and designed so papers could sell behaviorally-targeted ads to local customers on their sites and on Yahoo as well.  What happens when AT&T releases its thousands of sales people start to make local sales calls too?

Ken Doctor, at Outsell Insights has some excellent perspective (you have to register but it's worth it):

Outsell believes the week's developments should simply serve as a strong reminder to newspaper companies about nature of partnering in the digital world. Today's partner may be tomorrow's competitor, and vice versa. That means corporate development and business development need to be strengthened, ongoing high-level efforts to find, manage, measure, optimize, and sometimes replace the many web alliances that are key to success.

Good news: They'll pay. Bad news: Not for our news

Poynter's Bill Mitchell reports on a new seven-nation study that looked at paying for content online.  The good news is researchers found that Americans are willing to spend 68% of what they spend for news offline.    The bad news is the general news we produce isn't what they're willing to pony up for:

With general news likely to remain a commodity for the foreseeable future, that suggests the strongest potential for payment lies in "specialized, targeted and relevant" content that's usually quite expensive to produce.

Actually, that's not a bad bargain.  The general news isn't as much fun to do as the tough, relevant and specialized stuff.

Topical verticals seek revenue beyond the banner ad

Steve Buttry of Gazette Communications, which is embarking on one of the bolder experiments in reinvention, posts a followup to his company's decision to separate content production from product production.

They're aggressively chasing new sources of revenue, specifically transactional opportunities around content (such as selling tickets next to movie reviews etc.) and specialized topical verticals that address the spaces in between the obvious consumer moments.

What if we developed a vertical for the everyday tasks of driving? This would provide a traffic map, gas-price map, pothole map, databases of bridge inspections, parking meter citations and gas-pump inspections. We would provide discussion groups for classic-car fans, parents of teen drivers and other automotive interests. We'd offer a place for sharing photos of souped-up cars and stories about first cars. We'd provide text alerts about traffic problems and road closures. (Many newspaper sites already provide some of these services, but not grouped together. The auto-focused databases are grouped with other databases, as though we want to appeal to some imaginary broad segment of the population interested in data.)

We're working on similar projects.  The challenge is how to engage a newsroom focused on daily journalism in providing this kind of content.  Not to mention the obvious elephant in the room:  Is this journalism at all?

NewBizNews: Paid content models

Jeff Jarvis kicks off his CUNY new business models inquiry. In typical fashion, he's doing it all in the open. This should be of great interest to those of us working in traditional newsrooms. Key point here, well articulated by Mr. Jarvis:

At the end of the day, what we’re trying to do is make hard, unemotional business judgments. The question is not whether content should be free or whether readers should pay; “should” is an irrelevant verb. The question, very simply, is how more money can be made. What will the market support?

Running the numbers on pay-for-content models

More grist for the mill regarding pay-for-content. Martin Langveld at the Nieman lab runs the numbers and determines they don't support just putting up a wall and charging a fee:

A simple tollbooth approach at any price cuts out the vast majority of the audience, and would mean that newspapers were retrenching to print — saying in effect, “If you want our news online, it’s there, just pay the fee, but we’re no longer investing much energy in developing our sites, because there’s no money on that side of the fence.”

A more rigorous look at the potential for pay walls was done by the folks at Media Cafe. They've even got a spreadsheet you can look at. Bottom line: Still doesn't work.

Google and newspapers

I'm quoted in an article on regarding Rupert Murdoch's musings at a cable industry confab. Murdoch asked "Should we be allowing Google to steal all our copyrights?" Just to clarify, I'm not one of those who think Google is the death of newspapers. What I expressed to the reporter was more nuanced than what made it into the article.
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Wither the newspaper industry?

The Diane Rehm show tackles our business in an hourlong radio show. You can listen to an archive copy of it here.

This week's bankruptcy filing by the Tribune Company is the latest sign of trouble for the news business. A panel joins guest host Katty Kay to discuss how the on-going recession is affecting the already struggling industry and what it could mean for how Americans get their news.

The What Would Google Do? world

Jeff Jarvis explains in his new book how business models should mirror Google's success:

In an economy built on networks, you want to be a platform. Google is. It enables countless businesses to run thanks to its revenue (AdSense), its content (Google Maps), its functionality, (Google Docs), its services (Google App Engine), not to mention its distribution.

In the book, I make a fanciful argument that a car company - any of the once-big three - could become a platform for more car companies to build atop it - if it came out with an open-source car. If it did, its capital needs and risk and labor and benefits coasts would decline; it could grow again without going into debt to do so. I have other ideas for what a car platform is. Universities should become platforms for aggregated educations. Doctors’ offices should be platforms for health. In this new world, you don’t want to own everything - indeed, if you’re like Google, you want to own as little as possible. Instead, you want to enable everything.

Yahoo/newspapers boost ad pact

The Yahoo advertising platform that we newspaperswill be a part of is the subject of arecent article in Investor's Business Daily.It explains how the deal will work:

Newspapers hope to take advantage of Yahoo features such as behavioral targeting. With this tool, Yahoo tries to target specific ads to specific people, based on what searches people do online.

Oh, and they quote me too. <insert smiley face here>

Yahoo launches new ad platform

From Lost Remote:

Yahoo has taken the wraps off APT (formerly AMP), its new display ad platform that has been under development with the newspaper consortium. In a nutshell, sites on the platform will be able to leverage behavioral data across Yahoo and the network to improve ad targeting. Agencies and advertisers, in theory, will spend on the platform because of its scale, simplicity and deep reporting. APT has been in testing with and, and now it will expand to A.H. Belo (us), Cox Newspapers, the MediaNews Group and Scripps Newspapers before fully launching next year. More info on Yahoo’s APT site right here.

The survival of journalism: 10 simple facts

I just discovered this post from University of Florida's Mindy McAdams -- who wrote the book (literally) on multimedia journalism. Mindy looks at what she calls the "500 pound gorilla" in our business -- who's going to fund what we do -- and suggests some facts we should probably just accept so we can move on to finding an answer. Among them, for instance:

Journalism CAN be done, and done well, without newspapers. It’s okay if you love newspapers, but they’re really expensive to produce and the audience is abandoning them, as are the advertisers, so it doesn’t help us much to go on talking about newspapers.

It's worth clicking above to check out the other 9.

Shutter the Web site, too?

Jeff Jarvis suggests in Google as the new pressroom that we should stop trying to create a "local" Web site just as we should stop trying to print a local paper:

Get out of the manufacturing and distribution and technology businesses as soon as possible. Turn off the press. Outsource the computers. Outsource the copyediting to India or to the readers. Collaborate with the reporting public. And then ask what you really are. The answer matters dearly.”

(Thanks, Scott Anderson)

More on links v. content

Following up on my thread about the link economy, I saw a white paperfrom Forrester that emphasizes the point. Nut graph:

"...newspaper eBusiness professionals ask Forrester how the competition for content verticals will evolve in the future — and this is fundamentally the wrong question. It’s clear from the data that newspapers no longer own the content verticals that make up their core products. Newspapers’ survival, in any media, demands a revolutionary shift in focus from being in the content business to being in the audience business."

The full white paper is available for purchase here. (Thanks, Bill Tanner)

Blogger Felix Salmon is a bit concerned about just how much Forrester 'gets' when it comes to Web 2.0 things such as RSS feeds. In a post called "Why Newspapers Must Embrace RSS," he contends Forrester doesn't adequately praise the effect that distributing content offsite can have.

"...embrace the bloggers in your area, encourage them, feed them, give them full RSS feeds sliced and diced to whatever specifications they desire, and let them bring you the new generation of readers which will replace the old print subscribers who are dying out."

(Thanks, Jennifer Okamoto)

The link economy v. the content economy

Jeff Jarvis makes an important point in The link economy v. the content economy about what the currency of the Internet is. Paraphrasing his point -- it's not about the content, it's about getting links. Content has become a commodity on the Web - you can get the information you need anywhere and everywhere. So for the content producer it's about getting links to the content, which translates to traffic, which translates to value, which translates to advertising.

It's a provocative argument - suggesting that content isn't important - but it's also a key transformative feature of digital news. The link economy is why we are hiring someone to help us distribute our content better on the Web. We're calling this person, who's a journalist, mind you, an audience acquisition editor. The Washington Post recently advertised for a similar position, a content distribution manager.

One could argue that we have all the content we need - we just don't have the links.

What's bigger: All the newspaper.coms or Digg?

Read Diggnation in New York from Jeff Jarvis -- a post about the Web TV show spawned by the recommendation site "Digg." He notes that 2000 people attended the conference. First point: That's more than twice the number of people who attend the Online News Association's annual conference -- the one that I work on with a bunch of well-paid mainstream media types.

OK... it's not exactly apples-to-apples, because the Digg conference is a consumer conference -- i.e. for people who love the site -- and ONA is for industry people -- i.e. people who work in online news. But still.

Next, he notes that Digg received 26 million unique users (visitors) per month. OK so receives about 2.6 million unique users per month. 1/10th the Digg number. Again, Digg is a national site and we're regional. But still.

One other thing: He mentions TWiT, one of my favorite iPod listens. It's a San Francisco based techie podcast by Leo LaPorte, a former Tech TV guy who went indie when TechTV died.

Leo's done an amazing job of creating a one-man-band podcasting franchise.His podcast reaches, I think, 200,000 people a week-- something that's possible today because you don't need radio or TV spectrum or infrastructure like you used to.

Those Tech TVguys offered me a job back in the day, which I turned down for newspaper.coms. But... still.

What is it about this new media, Web 2.0 world that we aren't quite tapping into?

Well, it's about tech, of course. But... still.

Our annual state of the union address

The Project for Excellence in Journalism's annual survey of the state of the news media has really become the authoritative source for how we're doing as an industry.  This year's fifth annual report delivers once again.  It is a must read.

If nothing else, a glance at the major trends is helpful as we seek to set operational agendas.

  • News is shifting from becoming a product to a service i.e. how can you help me?
  • News brands are no longer final destinations (we should point elsewhere)
  • User-generated content has more limited value than some thought
  • Newsrooms are starting to innovate; advertising sales is not

There's a big punch in the gut too -- about that bugaboo we've been concerned about for such a long time:  How can we support our work financially?  The report offers this sobering thought:

The crisis in journalism... may not strictly be loss of audience. It may, more fundamentally, be the decoupling of news and advertising.

As it is every year, this report is deep, dense and packed with statistics.  But is it a page turner for anyone in our business.  I recommend you click through.

Microsoft to advertisers: Engagement beats clicks

We've been talking about "engagement" at The Dallas Morning News, in the hope that this will supplant page views as a more effective way of measuring our audience's interest in our content.  We're not alone, as Tech Crunch reports

In a speech today Brian McAndrews, Microsoft’s senior vice president of Advertiser & Publisher Solutions, announced the beta of a new way to measure the effectiveness of ad campaigns that Microsoft is calling “Engagement Mapping.”