Tuesday, October 21

Nielsen Will Soon Rate Everything on the Web, From Videos to Articles

Nielsen announced that it’s expanding its ratings system to all kinds of digital content to give both its creators and advertisers a more meaningful way to measure popularity in the online era.The most striking development in Adobe’s new system is that it’s designed for comparing disparate kinds of content. The new ratings, Nielsen says, can rank an online video next to a podcast next to an article.

Read more at Wired

Sunday, September 28

The divide between having ideas and reporting

Increasingly think-tanks are doing journalism—not just blogging and tweeting but foreign reporting, too. Deskbound journalists, meanwhile, are embracing data and spreadsheets.

Unlike non-profits, such as ProPublica and the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, think-tanks are in journalism more to promote ideas than to inform the public or expose wrongdoing. Much of what they publish is about policy. For officials and politicians, writes Jeremy Shapiro of the Brookings Institution, an American think-tank, “The thinkers are the validators. They will write op-eds, give pithy quotes to important newspapers, and appear on network news programmes.” Think-tank journalism comes closest to the traditional sort when it is in the field.

For journalists, the news is not so good. Twitter, blogs and newsletters can get a think-tank’s ideas to its audience direct. Hence a relationship that used to be symbiotic, with wonks helping create news and hacks distributing it, is becoming competitive—especially in the battle for influential readers, such as politicians.

Read more at The Economist

China tries to restrict foreign entertainment online

China’s TV regulator said that, from April, any foreign series or film would need approval before being shown online. Chinese media say that regulators are also considering limiting the number of foreign series shown online to a specific proportion of total output. The new rules appear aimed at closing one of the biggest loopholes in China’s control of its media: on terrestrial TV, for example, foreign dramas are banned in prime time. Many are forbidden altogether.

Read more at The Economist

Surveillance is the advertising industry’s new business model

By monitoring the websites people visit, these companies can infer their location, income, family size, education, age, employment and much more. One data firm has compiled a billion profiles of potential customers, each with an average of 50 attributes. Consumers are lumped into “segments” such as “men in trouble”—presumed to have relationship problems because they are shopping for chocolates and flowers—or “burdened by debt: small-town singles”. When people visit websites, advertisers bid to show them precisely targeted ads. The auctions take milliseconds and the ad is displayed when the website loads.

Targeted advertising has advantages for consumers. It pays for many popular websites which people can enjoy free of charge. Relevant ads are probably more useful to consumers than irrelevant ones. But any business based on covert surveillance is vulnerable to a backlash.

Someone who is categorised by a data broker as a “motorcycle enthusiast” might find his rates for medical or accident insurance rise. “Men in trouble” might find it harder to get a job. Until objections were raised, OkCupid, a dating website, used to sell data about people’s drug and alcohol consumption. It is not going to be to anybody’s advantage to have such information about them widely available.

Read more at The Economist

Saturday, September 20

TV is increasingly for the old

According to new research by media analyst Michael Nathanson of Moffett Nathanson Research. ..The median age of a broadcast or cable television viewer during the 2013-2014 TV season was 44.4 years old, a 6 percent increase in age from four years earlier. Audiences for the major broadcast network shows are much older and aging even faster, with a median age of 53.9 years old, up 7 percent from four years ago. Read more in the Washington Post

65% of smartphone users check their device upon waking

A third of all smartphone users in the U.K.—or 11 million adults—check their phone within five minutes of waking, according a report published Thursday from consulting group Deloitte. 67% of 18 to 24-year-olds do so within 15 minutes. And there is a set routine. Most smartphone owners first check their text messages (33%), followed by e-mail (25%), and then social networks (14%), says the report, based on data from a survey of 4,000 people.

The pattern of phone “addiction” continues during the day. One in six adults looks at their phones more than 50 times a day. 18 to 24-year-olds check their device on average 53 times a day, and for 13% the figure is more than 100 times.

Read more at the Wall Street Journal

Sunday, September 14

5 simple tips for visual branding on social media

The number one mistake companies make when branding their businesses on various social media outlets is being inconsistent across different platforms. One great example is Quotery.

Use simple branded images and videos on Instagram, such as a peek at a new product.

Use shareable images that can have many interpretations on Pinterest, such as a DIY or recipe with an attractive image that can be pinned to recipe boards, foodie boards and party planning boards.

Use large images that can stand out in a news feed on Facebook, such as a sale or an event poster

Use time sensitive or less important links on Twitter since it stands the possibility of getting, such as an article about an event the night prior.

Keep your profile picture simple and consistent.

Read more at TheNextWeb

5 data-driven ways to get your Facebook posts seen

At any given point a user logs into the Facebook platform, there are more than 1,500 posts that user could be shown.

Try shifting your scheduling strategy from posting during the most popular times in the workweek to the most effective times. Although most of the work marketers put in happens Monday-Friday, the magic actually happens during the weekend. 

Images receive 37 percent more interactions.

Using exclamation points in a post correlates with more engagement.

Add hashtags for 60 percent more engagement.

Our data showed a positive correlation between word count and post effectiveness. More specifically, posts of 80-89 words got 2 times as much engagement.

Read more at The Next Web

Investors are taking an interest in journalism

This week A&E Networks, a television company jointly owned by Disney and Hearst, was negotiating to buy a 10% stake in Vice’s parent company. The deal would value Vice Media at $2.5 billion, nearly double what it was worth about a year ago when Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox bought a 5% stake, and ten times what Amazon’s founder, Jeff Bezos, paid for the venerable Washington Post last year.

BuzzFeed still produces a lot of fluffy content (including, this week, “27 Google Searches All Cat Owners Can Relate To”) but it is hiring foreign correspondents to provide more serious coverage. The Huffington Post, a pioneer of digital news, is seeking readers in places like France and Brazil. Few newspapers have established a truly global business, says Ken Doctor, a media analyst, but a handful of digital news firms could pull it off.

Read more at The Economist

Saturday, September 13

Why is Amazon paying $970m for a video-game streaming startup?

Some amateur gamers have gained huge audiences through streaming sites like Twitch, just as they have on other forms of media. YouTube “vloggers”, often confessional and endearingly personal, are becoming celebrities in their own right. A gaming-related subgenre of video blogs, “Let’s play”, is persistently popular on YouTube. The videos of one “Let’s play” broadcaster, Felix “PewDiePie” Kjellberg, are alone estimated to bring in advertising revenues of up to $16m a year, according to SocialBlade, an analytics firm.
Read more at the Economist

Friday, September 12

Reading higher among millennials

More millennials read books than their elders, a new Pew Research report finds. According to the report, 88% of Americans 16 to 29 years old have read at least one book in the past year, compared with 79% of people 30 and older.

Read the story in the LA Times

Sunday, September 7

Where gadgets go to die

A growing mountain of electronic waste needs to be disposed of responsibly by rich nations rather than shipped to poorer countries to do the dirty work.

According to a United Nations initiative known as StEP (Solving the E-Waste Problem), electronic waste can contain up to 60 elements from the periodic table, as well as flame retardants and other nasty chemicals. Apart from heavy metals such as lead and mercury, there are quantities of arsenic, beryllium, cadmium and polyvinyl chloride.

What little is known about recycling hazardous waste in America, for instance, suggests that only 15-20% is actually recycled; the rest gets incinerated or buried in landfills, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). There is no evidence to suggest other countries are any better.

Recycling in an environmentally sound manner is expensive. For wealthier countries it remains much cheaper to ship unwanted electronic goods to poorer parts of the planet.

An interactive map giving details of certified recyclers is on the EPA’s website--www.epa.gov/epawaste.

Monday, September 1

Sometimes you see brands on the balance-sheet, sometimes you don’t

Both American and international accounting rules prohibit companies from recognising brands and many other “intangible” assets (such as customer lists) if they have created them themselves. Some marketers would like to change that. Roger Sinclair, who advises the MASB, an American body that sets marketing standards, points out that rules are inconsistent. The value of a brand—invisible when internally generated—is revealed when another company buys it.

Read more at The Economist

What are brands for?

Brands are the most valuable assets many companies possess. But no one agrees on how much they are worth or why. Most of the time they do not appear as assets on companies’ balance-sheets

Read more at the Economist

Sunday, August 31

All-time low for album sales

For the first time since Nielsen SoundScan began keeping track in 1991, album sales failed to reach the four-million-sold mark this week, totaling just 3.97 million.

Digital album sales are down 11.7 percent for the year, and à la carte downloads are down another 12.8 percent according to Billboard. Illegal downloading has no doubt eroded much of those digital sales, but it’s the emergence of legal streaming sites like Spotify and Pandora that has also chipped away at overall sales.

Read more in Rolling Stone

Tuesday, August 26

Study: Facebook news referrals are 'gaining' on Google

Traffic referrals to news sites from Facebook have "gained significant ground at the expense of Google" since the social networking platform changed its algorithm towards the end of last year, according to a study.

The report, entitled How efficient is the news? also showed that although sites with higher traffic have more reporters and, on average, publish more posts, this does not necessarily lead to more page views per story.

Read more here

Monday, August 11

The growing pay gap between journalism and public relations

The salary gap between public relations specialists and news reporters has widened over the past decade – to almost $20,000 a year, according to 2013 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data analyzed by the Pew Research Center. At the same time, the public relations field has expanded to a degree that these specialists now outnumber reporters by nearly 5 to 1 (BLS data include part-time and full-time employees, but not self-employed.)

Read more at Pew here

Thursday, August 7

Overall Consumer Magazine numbers fall in first half of 2014

For the first half of 2014, magazines reported a total average of 11.6 million digital replica editions (paid, verified and analyzed nonpaid), or 3.8 percent of total circulation. This compares with 10.2 million digital editions, or 3.3 percent of total circulation, in the first half of 2013. For the 367 U.S. consumer magazines reporting comparable numbers, total paid and verified circulation was down approximately 1.9 percent. Paid subscriptions were down 1.8 percent, and single-copy sales decreased by approximately 11.9 percent.

Read more at Audited Media

Thursday, July 31

Newspaper newsroom employment declined in 2013

The number of minority journalists in daily-newspaper newsrooms increased by a couple of hundred in 2013 even as newsroom employment declined by 3.2 percent, according to the annual census released Tuesday by the American Society of News Editors and the Center for Advanced Social Research.

Read more here

In a tabloidized world, tabloids struggle

Tabloids are still struggling to calibrate their newsrooms for this more crowded, digitally focused market. The Post, which some analysts estimate hemorrhages tens of millions of dollars annually, announced plans last year to cut its newsroom staff by 10 percent. Its print circulation, meanwhile, has fallen from about 600,000 to 250,000 over the past decade, according to the Alliance for Audited Media.

The Daily News has similarly seen print readership dwindle during that span, from roughly 700,000 to 300,000. As first reported by Capital New York, the paper laid off at least 17 journalists earlier this month, most of them print hands or photographers.

See more at Columbia Journalism Review.

Monday, July 21

Why digital publishers want to be in the magazine business

Print magazines, meanwhile, are everything online publishers want — they stand for something with their audiences, they have established rates based on a long tradition of buying and selling. The publisher can artificially limit supply by cutting pages.

And the magazine-reading experience is different. Magazines may be losing importance as more readers shift online, but they’re still the ultimate engagement vehicle. Research has shown that people are more focused when reading print than when listening to radio or watching TV.

Meanwhile, online publishing is heading for trouble.

Read more here

In China, more people now access the internet from a mobile device than a PC

the latest report published by state-affiliated research organization China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC) shows that the percentage of Chinese users accessing the Internet via mobile grew to 83.4 percent as of June 2014, for the first time surpassing the percentage of users who access the internet via PCs (80.9 percent). New numbers released today also show that the overall number of new internet users is still climbing, even if the rate of growth may not be as fast as before.

Read more at The Next Week

Referral share in Q2 2014

In Q2 2014, Facebook gained share, while Pinterest, Twitter, StumbleUpon, Reddit, YouTube, Google+ and LinkedIn all fell. Here’s the bigger picture: these eight social referral sites drove 31.07 percent of overall traffic in June 2014. The number has more than doubled: it was at just 15.55 percent in June 2013.

Read more at The Next Web

Sunday, July 20

Eight (No, Nine!) Problems With Big Data

Many tools that are based on big data can be easily gamed. For example, big data programs for grading student essays often rely on measures like sentence length and word sophistication, which are found to correlate well with the scores given by human graders. But once students figure out how such a program works, they start writing long sentences and using obscure words, rather than learning how to actually formulate and write clear, coherent text. Even Google’s celebrated search engine, rightly seen as a big data success story, is not immune to “Google bombing” and “spamdexing,” wily techniques for artificially elevating website search placement.

Read more at the New York Times

Saturday, July 19

How your iPhone is saving literature

Smartphones, even more than tablets and e-readers, have fostered a new type of reading, sometimes called “interstitial” reading. It’s the chapters, pages and paragraphs snatched up during those scraps of time that might once have been squandered on People magazine or just staring off into space. Interstitial reading happens while people are sitting in waiting rooms and the backs of taxis or standing at bus stops and in line for movie tickets or at the DMV.

Read more at Salon

Wednesday, July 9

Social Media considerations Drives Google Newsroom decision-making

If you do a Google search on the World Cup game in which Germany slaughtered Brazil 7-1, the top results will say things like "destroy," "defeat," and "humiliate." But Google itself is choosing to steer clear of negative terms. The company has created an experimental newsroom in San Francisco to monitor the World Cup, and turn popular search results into viral content. And they've got a clear editorial bias.

Read more at NPR

Monday, June 30

The fast-changing market for fonts

Free fonts, once ropy, are getting better; in the past few years Google has made more than 600 available. Talented type-designers find it ever easier to sell their work directly to consumers, sidestepping middlemen just as many book authors now do. The falling price of the design tools they use is encouraging novices to have a go. This, in turn, makes it easier for their big corporate customers to build in-house font teams.

Read more at The Economist

Saturday, June 28

Facebook’s Secret mood manipulation experiment

It shows how Facebook data scientists tweaked the algorithm that determines which posts appear on users’ news feeds—specifically, researchers skewed the number of positive or negative terms seen by randomly selected users. Facebook then analyzed the future postings of those users over the course of a week to see if people responded with increased positivity or negativity of their own, thus answering the question of whether emotional states can be transmitted across a social network. Result: They can!

Read more at The Atlantic

Friday, June 27

Teens Aren’t Fleeing Facebook After All

Nearly 80% of U.S. teens still use Facebook and are more active on the social networking site than any other, according to a Forrester Research report. The results are actually consistent with a comScore report from earlier this year that found even though there was a three-percentage-point drop in Facebook usage among college-aged adults, 89% of those college kids still use the site.

Read more at TIME

Sunday, June 15

Four factors that make a powerful visual

1. Authenticity
The consumer wants to believe that the people they are seeing are real… what they’re doing and how they’re acting is real.

At Getty Images, we've seen this trend play out with a change in the type of imagery we've been selling over the past five years. Our most popular 2007 baby versus 2012 baby shows the latter is clearly more candid. It’s not the perfect moment, but it is a real moment. And our 2007 woman versus 2012 woman shows quite a change, not just in her look, but in her attitude.

Read more here

What a Data Scientist does

What the industry calls a 'data scientist' now is really several different roles.. each requiring a different skill set.

1 business analyst

The role of business analyst existed long before the terms "big data" or "data scientist" were in vogue. This person works with front-end tools, meaning those closest to the organization's core business or function, such as Microsoft Excel, Tableau Software's visualization tools, or QlikTech's QlikView BI apps. A business analyst might also have sufficient programming skills to code up dashboards, and have some familiarity with SQL and NoSQL.

2 machine learning expert

The second data science role is that of machine-learning expert, a statistics-minded person who builds data models and makes sure the information they provide is accurate, easy to understand, and unbiased. "These are the people who develop algorithms and crunch numbers," said Wu. "They are interested in building models that predict something."

3 data engineer.

The third key job, data engineer, is "the bottom layer, the foundation," said Wu. "They are the ones who play with Hadoop, MapReduce, HBase, Cassandra. These are people interested in capturing, storing, and processing this data… so that the algorithm people can build models and derive insights from it."

Read more at Information Week

Can Twitter Survive?

News organizations have been reporting in recent weeks that Twitter’s growth rate has been slowing, which has spurred speculation about its future... Our studies have shown that Twitter occupies an important segment of the social networking world, but, in sheer numbers, its user base lags far behind the social networking behemoth Facebook.

Twitter is different; not only in who it attracts, but also in how it is used and how messages spread on the platform. Twitter also often acts more like a broadcasting network than a social network, connecting speakers and their content to the public.

Read more at Pew

Time Inc. spinoff reflects a troubled magazine business

While the digital side of the business has been making some gains, overall magazine print circulation (including single-copy sales, subscriptions and even digital replicas) has been down each of the past six years, while the number of print ad pages fell for the eighth year in a row in 2013.

Overall employment on both the business and editorial sides of U.S. magazines fell 3% in 2013, following a 4% decline in 2012, according to Advertising Age Over the longer term, consumer magazines have shed a total of 41,500 jobs since 2003 (a 28% drop).

Read more at Pew

The 100 Most-Edited Wikipedia Articles

The top historical figures, per that report, are George W. Bush, Michael Jackson, Jesus, Barack Obama and Adolf Hitler.

Read more at FiveThirtyEight

Thursday, June 12

Mining for tweets of gold

Dataminr, a New York startup analyses the 500m or so tweets sent out daily.. for important events and news not yet reported by the mainstream media, the firm now has dozens of customers in finance, the news business and the public sector. In January it and Twitter struck a deal to provide alerts to CNN. In April its tracking of tweets was part of a strategy by the authorities in Boston to avoid a repeat of last year’s terrorist attack at the city’s annual marathon.

Dataminr is one of a growing number of firms built on analysing data from Twitter, though most do not have its focus on real-time news alerts.

Read more at The Economist

Three eye-catching big data ventures

1. Open Data Institute

Aim: free data for all

The not-for-profit Open Data Institute has positioned itself as both a catalyst for data innovation and a global hub for data expertise. Based in Shoreditch, east London, the ODI oversees a network of collaborative international "nodes."

2. The Human Brain Project

Aim: to reveal the workings of human consciousness

Flush with €1bn in funding, the Human Brain Project is a 10-year quest to reveal the hidden workings of consciousness.

3. IBM's Computational Creativity

Aim: to make computers 'creative'

Big-data analytics techniques have been deployed by IBM's Thomas J Watson Research Center to create new food recipes – what you might call technouvelle cuisine – mined from sources including Wikipedia and Fenaroli's Handbook of Flavor Ingredients, then tweaked with an algorithm designed to add creativity to matched ingredients. 

Read more here

Tuesday, June 3

Some Newspapers to Staff: Social Media Isn’t Optional, It’s Mandatory

The newspapers that mandate participation on social media emphasize a newsroom-wide approach to traffic growth. The Gannett-owned Jackson Clarion-Ledger, for instance, requires its writers to maintain Facebook and Twitter profiles and everyone on staff helps draw attention to the site, Executive Editor and Director of Audience Engagement Brian Tolley wrote in an email.Editors and social media managers play a bigger role in audience-building than other staffers.

Mallary Tenore, former managing editor of Poynter.org, said she doesn’t believe newspapers should require all staff to have social media accounts because people tend to have negative reactions to words such as “mandatory.”

Read more at AJR

Study: Colbert does a better job teaching people about campaign financing than traditional news sources

Viewers of “The Colbert Report” who watched faux-conservative TV host Stephen Colbert set up a super PAC and 501(c)(4) organization during the last presidential election cycle proved to be better informed about campaign financing and the role of money in politics than viewers of other news channels and shows, according to a new study.

Read more here

Sunday, June 1

Everything you need to know about the future of newspapers is in these two charts

The decline in print-advertising revenue — which has been in free-fall for years now — is not stopping, or even slowing down, any time soon. If anything, it is likely to accelerate.

Read more at Gigaom

Friday, May 30

The New York Times ponders the bold changes needed for the digital age

Every paper is rethinking its business strategy as readers keep abandoning print for digital, and in particular mobile, devices.

Other newspapers regard the Times as a farsighted digital pioneer. It now claims 760,000 digital subscribers, and in recent months it has completed a sleek online makeover and launched new mobile apps. So if the Times is anxious, they should be too. 

Read more at The Economist

Think Internet Data Mining Goes Too Far? Then You Won't Like This

These days, you can hop on the Internet and buy yourself a consumer-grade brain scanning device for just a few hundred dollars.

"By putting something on your head, you're actually providing an extra source of information," Bonaci says. The information leaking from your skull could be very revealing, she says. "The consequences of providing that signal without thinking about it are probably similar to the consequences of giving your DNA sample to some online database."

It sounds far-fetched, but.. the day may come when millions of people play online games while wearing BCIs. Whoever controls the game could play "20 Questions," measuring players' emotional responses to what they see.

"I could show political candidates and begin to understand your political orientation, and then sell that to pollsters."

Read more at NPR

Why we need infographics and how to make them great

Storytelling is extremely important with data visualization and infographics. If there’s no story, then who cares? It’s just raw data. The story is what will set you apart. If it’s memorable and entertaining, then people will remember it.

Read more at The Next Web

Wednesday, May 28

new ways to pay your bills

New services to make spending money easier are springing up all the time. They are not confined to the rich world: in Kenya roughly 60% of adults—about the same number as have a bank account—use a mobile-phone payment service called M-PESA (see chart 4) And increasingly they cater to business customers too: services that integrate electronic invoicing and payments into a firm’s procurement and accounting system, or that help manage and raise working capital, are becoming commonplace.

Not surprisingly, the titans of the internet have started to eye up the payments business. Google offers a virtual wallet; Amazon recently set up a service to allow its customers to transfer money; Facebook and Apple have expressed interest in the field. There is much speculation that the latest iPhone’s ability to read fingerprints may be heralding a world-changing payment service. Telecoms companies (such as Safaricom, the firm behind M-PESA) and bricks-and-mortar merchants (Starbucks) are also dabbling in the field.

In China McKinsey expects it to increase by 42% a year between 2012 and 2017. Brazil is already the world’s second-biggest market for card transactions after the United States, according to Capgemini, another consultancy.

Consultants like to speak of “purchasing journeys” in which settling the bill is only the final step. Other waystations include advertising, internet search, participation in loyalty schemes and so on. Innovators, the thinking goes, could afford to undercut market prices for payments in anticipation of greater rewards at some other stage in the journey.

Read more at the Economist

Tuesday, May 27

Google Changes Logo - very slightly

Without fanfare, Google has changed its logo for only the third time in a decade – by just two pixels... From the company which famously a/b tested which shade of blue to use in adverts – and made $200m in the process – you can be sure the decision wasn't made lightly.

Read more at The Guardian

Monday, May 19

New York Times Internal Report Painted Dire Digital Picture

The report also calls for a profound rethinking of the newsroom’s independence from the rest of the company, in order to involve editorial leaders more deeply in technological decisions.

“The very first step … should be a deliberate push to abandon our current metaphors of choice — ‘The Wall’ and ‘Church and State’ — which project an enduring need for division. Increased collaboration, done right, does not present any threat to our values of journalistic independence,” the report says.

Read more at Buzz Feed

The New York Times’ digital challenges, in 5 charts

Readership trends don’t favor the Times. Despite its dependence on print advertising, the paper is seeing its readers increasingly getting their news from the Internet. Half of all consumers went online for most of their news in 2013, while the percentage of those getting their news primarily from newspapers slid to under one-third. Despite that, the Times is stuck in a print-centric way of gathering and distributing the news.

Read more at Digiday

Sunday, May 18

TED founder thinks big data needs a big makeover

The way Wurman sees it, that bulk collection of raw information has no value without a creative means of diagramming, mapping and comparing it all in a way that gives it meaning. "[You] have to have it in a form that you can understand. They're leaving that step out," he said. It's that approach to the organization of data that has directly informed the creation of Wurman's high-tech information-mapping project, Urban Observatory.

Read more at Engadget