Soon this blog will be phased out and all the action will be over at Screenwerk.com.
Comscore has put out a ranking of the top newspaper sites online, as well as CPM rates by site category. Here are the charts:
Online newspapers have the highest CPM rates of the categories covered by comScore in the chart above. They don’t have the most impressions however. According to Nielsen and suggested by the graphic immediately above, social media (including blogs) now capture “one in every four and a half minutes online.”
The NY Times is planning to reintroduce paid access for its site. How this will affect CPM rates and traffic/revenues is uncertain at this point. While people might pay for global access across devices to NY Times content, it will be tough to get people to pay online. We’ll see how they execute the program.
Blogs and other free, ad-supported news sites may stand to gain from the Times retreat behind the paywall. And of course one of the challenges for the WSJ or the forthcoming paid version of the Times is SEO.
To paraphrase and borrow from the Times’ own Thomas Friedman: online all the news is flat. A paywall will put more pressure on the Times to maintain and even boost quality and offer more content and features. News online is largely a commodity. Many people will be fine getting it from Yahoo! or CNN if not the Times.
The Online Publishers Association continues to advocate on behalf of premium publishers with data/research and fight (perhaps a losing battle) against the the commoditization of audiences via ad networks.
Separately the Times plans, according to AdAge, to create a “public beta testing site where it will experiment with new ideas and applications before deciding whether they deserve to go live on NYTimes.com. The Times expects to introduce the site, to be called Beta620, in July or August. The “620” refers to the paper’s street address on Eighth Avenue in New York.”
GetListed has launched a UK site/service. Same principle: input your listing information and see where your business shows up or doesn’t — as the case may be:
GetListed and Palore’s AmIVisible were among the earliest of these “presence management” tools. Marchex was the first to offer combined presence and reputation management. Now most of the reputation management tools and platforms include similar functionality to varying degrees.
In a write up of a media and advertising forecast being released by PriceWaterhouseCoopers, the WSJ says the report estimates that by 2014 the Internet will be the second largest US ad medium after TV. Accordingly it will be larger than newspapers:
The online ad business, excluding mobile ads, is set to expand to $34.4 billion in 2014 from $24.2 billion in 2009, according to the report, which PwC plans to release Tuesday.
Newspapers, meanwhile, continue to suffer from a decline in advertising revenue. According to numbers released by the Newspaper Association of America earlier this year, print advertising revenue dropped 28.6% in 2009 to $24.82 billion. The PwC report estimates that print advertising in newspapers will hit $22.3 billion by 2014.
PwC also predicts that mobile will grow from $414 million in 2009 to $1.6 billion in 2014.
At once this prediction is both unsurprising and shocking. And dare I say it: despite its targeting and tracking the Internet is a relatively bland, annoying and creatively ineffective ad medium. There are isolated exceptions to this, including paid search — which can be bland but has proven very effective.
So the Internet has replaced the “art” of traditional media advertising with the “science” of targeting. Maybe the world of mobile and tablets in particular can marry the two.
Here’s something that was brought to my attention along those lines: Ads on iPad Perform Six Times Better Than on Desktop.
Canada’s Yellow Pages Group becomes the second major YP publisher (after Yellowbook) to launch an app for the iPad. It also promotes other YPG properties, such as its Urbanizer iPhone app, Restaurantica and its deals site, RedFlagDeals.com. However the buttons below take users to the Internet versions of those sites rather than specially iPad/mobile optimized versions.
Overall my sense is that the app is a good start but can be tweaked improved, especially at the profile page level.
A couple of thoughts:
Three years ago I wrote about the “PC in the kitchen” that would replace the phone book. This is it — it’s where my iPad sits much of the time.
One of the simple YPG iPad app features that I like, which is relatively common across directory sites, is favorites and recent searches. This becomes an informal list of contacts — you can also add SMBs or locations to the formal iPad contacts — for quick reference. So in the kitchen this is like a phone book in a way. The potential for engagement around this simple idea is quite high.
The next step is for the iPad to become a phone, which it is with the Skype app, and integrate calling into an app like this. So when I tap the number above, Skype launches and I can call the business. YPG could track that call and get credit for delivering it. You get the idea.
The YPG iPad app is also a potentially great “deals” platform. Coupons/deals should be integrated into this app as well. One could imagine a Groupon-like local deal of the day . . .
Twitter yesterday announced Places — Tweets associated with a specific location:
Starting today, you can tag Tweets with specific places, including all World Cup stadiums in South Africa, and create new Twitter Places. You can also click a Twitter Place within a Tweet to see recent Tweets from a particular location. Try it out during the next match—you will be able to see Tweets coming from the stadium.
What’s new here is the local precision and the fact that all tagged Tweets about a place (Disneyland, Louvre, The Vatican, Angkor Wat, Tommy’s Burgers, etc.) will have a dedicated page or pages. Users will also be able to search for those Tweets much more easily than before.
In addition, Twitter Places incorporates Foursquare and Gowalla check-in information. There will also be an API so third parties can take the local Tweets and use them on their sites or build apps/tools around the content.
TomTom and Localeze are data partners, providing place and business data on a global basis (65 countries). TomTom owns TeleAtlas.
Matt McGee at SEL offers some thoughts on how this might challenge Google Places. However Google might incorporate Tweets from the API into Google Places as well.
In a presentation I did — The Revolution Will Be Geotagged — I argued that we’ve gone from a paucity of local data to a deluge. The challenge now is organizing and filtering all the location-based information coming out. That will be the challenge here too, with Twitter Places.
Make no mistake, this is a major move for Twitter and potentially one that will define its “next phase of growth.” The information generated could well be of high value to users; but there will still be a great deal of garbage in the stream as well.
There will be the “fun” and informative real-time posts associated with a Place (“I’m here,” “Me too,” “Whoa, check that out”). And then there will be what we might call “utility content” — tips, reviews, helpful information that’s more evergreen. Indexing, preserving and presenting that evergreen information is what I’m talking about.
“You know what I’m sayin'”?
Third parties may actually be in a much better position than Twitter itself to organize and filter the flood of new LBS Tweets that will be generated.
Matt McGee, crediting Steve Espinoza, discusses the notion of dedicated page for locations (a la Google Places) that offers an opportunity for SMBs (and others) to claim listings and presents a structured profile. I agree. That will undoubtedly come. Either Twitter will do it itself or somebody else will. That approach could address the wheat/chaff issue.
As Steve argues in the reverenced post, it then presents monetization scenarios for Twitter of various sorts beyond Promoted Tweets. Yet if users start to conduct local searches on Twitter because the information about locations and businesses is getting better and more useful, Promoted Tweets become very interesting in that context as well.
How all this plays out remains to be seen of course. But I regard this evolution of location on Twitter as a potentially very significant development. It will help to create a new “culture” and set of behaviors around location among Twitter users.
Twitter’s COO Dick Costello recently said that the site sees 190 million users per month (globally), who are posting 65 million Tweets daily. That makes Twitter and its UGC “firehose” a potential force to be reckoned with in local.
I told myself this morning I wasn’t going to write any blog posts to work on a couple of client deliverables. But I can’t resist commenting on a Robert Scoble post: “Foursquare’s Yelp problem.”
Scoble makes a number of points about Yelp and Foursquare and then serves up a set of recommendations to the latter. Here’s what he says about Yelp’s recent adoption of badges:
Yelp has now copied the checkin gesture that Foursquare introduced to us all and also they added badges of their own. I already am the baron of my favorite Mexican restaurant in Half Moon Bay.
This copying behavior demonstrates to me that Yelp is definitely jealous of the attention Foursquare is getting and isn’t able to innovate on its own . . .
Yelp is jealous of Foursquare’s serendipity and gaming. But they haven’t nailed that yet. I think that’s why Foursquare’s CEO, Dennis Crowley, says that Yelp hasn’t copied the right features yet. But he’s gotta be nervous that they’ll figure it out in a couple of more months and totally take away Foursquare’s air supply.
I’m not going to discuss Scoble’s recommendations to Foursquare, which just got some new funding. But I want to offer an alternative analysis.
I don’t think, as Scoble argues, that “Yelp is jealous of Foursquare’s serendipity and gaming.” Yelp was in Foursquare’s position (the cool/hot upstart) for several years. Foursquare has usurped that position and the associated mindshare. Foursquare is the darling of the blognescenti right now.
Yelp is not threatened by geo-social gaming per se. The perceived Foursquare threat to Yelp comes from the possibility that some of Yelp’s top review writers and cool cats might be siphoned off by the newer and shinier service. In other words, the concern is that Foursquare might look like the “hipper” party. I think that’s what Yelp is partly trying to guard against with its recent moves, adopting check-ins and badges, which seek to retain those enamored by Foursquare and its features.
I also don’t think Yelp is “unable to innovate” but I do agree with Scoble that the extent of the imitation is somewhat disappointing.
Yelp is a truly mainstream site today with something around 32 million uniques. Foursquare by comparison is not (perhaps yet), with just over 2 million users:
One paradox at the heart of Foursquare is that the features that have driven success to date are potential barriers to mainstream adoption. Here’s what I wrote several months ago in a client only report on LBS and geo-social games:
Geo-social gaming services must strike a balance between their competitive and utilitarian aspects in order to gain broad appeal. The “Mayor” concept in Foursquare provides a case in point. It generates engagement and fun as participants compete to be the Mayor, the most frequent check-in at popular venues.
While this drives engagement among the most committed users it could discourage casual users from participating. However, Foursquare and its peers need these more casual users in order to go mainstream; they need people to use these apps in the same way people now use Yelp or Citysearch or a directory site – for local recommendations.
You may or may not agree with that perspective. I’ll offer a kind of ironic rejoinder to that view: Yelp, by adopting check-ins and badges, is now exposing a much larger audience to these game concepts and thereby potentially helping to mainstream them. By copying Foursquare, Yelp could be helping the site ultimately by “acculturating” people to LBS gaming.
Yelp and Foursquare share monetization challenges. Yet Yelp now has a very large telephone sales channel that it uses to sell ads. One could argue, however, that well-reviewed SMBs on Yelp don’t need to advertise — a fundamental problem. Yelp has answers for that point of view of course.
For its part, Foursquare has been busy working with traditional media companies (Bravo TV, Conde Nast, etc.) and brands but it faces some obstacles in generating SMB ad dollars.
In the first Foursquare marketer survey (n=125 SMBs currently using Foursquare to promote themselves), which I collaborated on, this was the response to the “would you pay for it?” question:
Only 10.4% said they were willing to pay for services on Foursquare. If push were to come to shove that could change; however the slide above illustrates the resistance to paid Foursquare advertising at the SMB level.
Foursquare is something of an unlikely, or perhaps more accurately, unexpected success. The next-order challenge is to broaden the consumer appeal of the service without diluting it beyond recognition for early users.
Yelp by contrast has “arrived.” Its founders may see a challenge in maintaining its “cool” vs. newer sites like Foursquare. But I would suggest that Yelp now should focus on being a better utility and cityguide for everyone and not worry so much about holding on to its hipster image.
Hulu is reportedly about to expand to a range of other devices, following in the footsteps of Netflix’s successful move to the iPad, Xbox, Roku box, Wii and now the iPhone. The price point that has been reported in the past is $9.99 per month. It’s not clear if that would eliminate commercials, however. My suspicion is no.
It appears from the recent Reuters report that Hulu will likely provider broader content access to subscribers:
Hulu, which generated an estimated $100 million in advertising revenue last year, will continue to offer newer episodes of shows like Fox’s “Glee” free of charge, but it will also charge viewers a monthly fee to see older episodes and other content, two of the sources said.
Given that consumers have long demonstrated a willingness to pay for movie rentals and cable TV, the market is arguably already conditioned, especially by Netflix, for the Hulu paid service. But given the fact that people already pay for cable there may be a reluctance to embark on another monthly subscription. Also the question arises: will Hulu expand what’s available to paying customers (as the Reuters article suggests) or will it remove some of what’s available for free, perhaps in addition to an expanded offering on the paid side. The former approach is more likely to succeed.
Mobile TV has failed in the US, because people are unwilling to pay for it. But Netflix on the iPad (and soon the iPhone) is a success. Why? It’s partly because of the brand and nature of the service and partly because of the broad array of content available on Netflix. Also the user experience Netflix created on the iPad is terrific. Mobile TV has been very uneven.
YouTube wants to go into this area as well but it’s not clear that the site can make the transition. Past experiments with movie rentals have largely failed.
Hulu has developed a much stronger brand for “premium” content and I believe there’s at least some willingness out there to pay for what it has to offer. That same “demand” doesn’t seem to exist with YouTube, which also has less professional content.
One reason why this is interesting to me is because its a free model moving to a hybrid model. This is challenge even more acutely faced by newspapers as they try and negotiate a similar transition. However newspaper content has been massively devalued by the “commoditization” of news online. Only a few publishers are likely to be able to gain any meaningful subscription revenue from the PC Internet. Tablets may turn out to be a different story.
Then there’s the interesting angle that asks how these emerging services on TV and other devices will impact cable: Netflix + Hulu through a set-top box or Google TV (or a comparable service). There’s lots of pent up demand I believe to ditch cable for cheaper and more flexible services such as Netflix and/or Hulu on “all my devices.”
The cable companies will obviously try and block or pre-empt this scenario. Let’s talk in three years and see where we are.
Would you be willing to pay a monthly fee for an enhanced version of Hulu and at what point would you cancel cable?
I was unaware of this but apparently the US FTC is considering some new taxes to support or subsidize traditional journalism and newspapers in particular. These could include new mobile phone taxes or taxes on electronic devices or news websites that utilize traditional news sources for much of their content (e.g., Huffington Post).
Consumers apparently don’t like this idea. I agree.
Rasmussen Reports conducted a telephone survey (sample size unknown) of US adults shows that most people are opposed to any such “newspaper bailout.” Here are the data:
- 84% oppose a three percent (3%) tax on monthly cell phone bills to help newspapers
- 76% oppose a proposed five percent (5%) tax on the purchase of consumer electronic items such as computers, iPads and Kindles to help support newspapers
- 74% oppose the proposal to tax web sites like the Drudge Report to help the newspapers they draw their headlines from.
According to the survey, “10% favor the tax on monthly cell phone bills to help newspapers . . . 16% support the tax on consumer electronic devices, and 18% of adults favor placing an additional tax on Internet news sites.”
I don’t want to see traditional journalism further weakened. However I think new taxes to provide subsidies to for-profit media companies that are unable to compete successfully is completely misguided.
I no longer subscribe to print newspapers but when I travel I always look at them. I was struck the other day by how anemic USA Today looked to me. It was thin and narrow (to save on printing costs).
The cost saving measures that diminish the “look and feel” of print as well as its content hasten the demise of the traditional product. (USA Today is getting selected online articles from content farm Demand Media.) However journalism and print newspapers are not completely synonymous. There is a fair amount of overlap but the journalistic impulse and journalism will survive the decline of print.
The challenge is how to support professional writers and editors doing original reporting, rather than simply rewriting press releases or creating “service journalism,” which is where Demand and Associated Content are playing.
While the iPad and its imitators may enable publishers to generate subscription revenues from electronic media, traditional journalism doesn’t monetize well online (so far), making it hard to support full time reporters doing serious work.
See related: NY Times’ Scoop App a Model for Others
Marchex announced a deal with the Local Media Group unit of Dow Jones. The latter will sell a white labeled version of the Marchex reputation management product to its small business advertisers:
(1) Marchex will provide Dow Jones Local Media Group with a private-labeled version of the Marchex Reputation Management product, which it will sell to its small business customers on a monthly subscription basis and/or bundled with other Dow Jones Local Media Group product offerings; and
(2) Marchex will continue to receive unique content and information from Dow Jones Local Media Group as well as from other new content partners, including CitySquares, Joy of Spa and Measured Up, for inclusion in Marchex Reputation Management, which will benefit users by broadening the local business listing meta-data footprint of the product to nearly half-a-billion items (e.g., user reviews, listings, mentions on blogs and social media).
Reputation management is becoming an essential layer of the local business product suite. Marchex was the first fully realized product in this segment for SMBs; however other companies have more recently developed competing products.
I got a quick demo of the updated Marchex product this morning and found the it had been improved and upgraded further since I last saw it. There are also a number of very interesting roadmap ideas.
David Mihm has published results of the third “Local Search Ranking Factors” survey in which he and other professional SEOs discuss the variables that affect local listing rankings, chiefly on Google. It represents a kind of consensus of highly informed (and practiced) professional opinion about local SEO.
Mihm provides a summary overview of the results on his blog. For those professionally engaged in SEO it’s invaluable. And for those even casually interested it’s worth exploring. However there is an enormous amount of detail there: more than 70 “factors” discussed at length.
Here are two lists from the survey that I found interesting:
Search and local search platform provider Kenshoo, which competes with Marin software in the general paid search segment and Clickable, among others, in the local search realm has introduced what it calls “Call Conversion Optimization.”
The company has integrated call tracking from several providers into its automated paid search platform. Call Conversion Optimization, according to Kenshoo, automatically adjusts bidding in response to ads that are driving calls rather than resulting in mere clicks. (This theoretically could capture ads that contain phone numbers and deliver a call without generating a click.) The system thus learns to optimize bidding for those ads and keywords that are generating the phone calls.
This was something that Who’s Calling was seeking to do a long time ago, but they never brought it fully to market. Otherwise Kenshoo told me that they believe this capability is unique. Here’s how the press release describes it:
Designed specifically for organizations managing high volumes of SMB, regional, store or dealer campaigns, KENSHOO Local simplifies and automates client on-boarding and ongoing campaign management. Focusing on SMBs, who typically measure ROI from paid search campaigns by actual phone calls received, Kenshoo now empowers agencies to maximize return on the spend of their SMB clients.
Filling the gap between online optimization and offline conversions, KENSHOO CCO allows IYPs, CMRs, agencies and retailers to apply search marketing to the real world interactions of selling their products and services. By integrating with industry-leading call tracking providers, KENSHOO CCO creates a unique closed-loop feedback mechanism between the online PPC campaigns and the phone calls they generate, continuously optimizing keyword bids to maximize the number and effectiveness of phone call conversions . . .
And here is a slide provided by Kenshoo that illustrates the process (click to enlarge):
Todd Herrold, director, product management for Kenshoo Local told me that call tracking can be integrated at “any level,” from ad creative to individual keywords. I pressed him for specifics and metrics, but he said the company wasn’t quite ready to release that type of information about its clients or the product.
However he did describe some pretty interesting work the company is doing with at least one of its clients to integrate with the latter’s CRM system and factor information gleaned by live agents into the process — so moving beyond the call into a subsequent interaction with a sales or customer service rep.
Yelp has teamed up with TurnHere to sell video to local businesses. Here’s the Yelp post:
Today we’re excited to announce that Yelp advertisers now have the option to add video to their business profile page. I’ve personally viewed hundreds of these videos and I have to say that they can really help yelpers get a sense of a business’s ambiance, personality and specialties in a very short amount of time.
Here are the options:
- Premium Video: Advertisers receive a 30-60 second custom video shot at their place of business by a professional filmmaker from the TurnHere network.
- Standard Video: Advertisers receive a 30 second video slideshow made from a series of photos provided by the business with music and custom voiceover narration.
Long time in coming. Seems like there’s lots of movement coming out of Yelp right now.
The EveryScape map app is being launched initially in Boston with other major cities becoming available later this year, and is EveryScape’s first partner-enabled visual guide for local search. Users can view the interiors of more than 500 Boston restaurants and explore exteriors for more than 1,300 in 3D. Interior panoramic imagery allows users to “walk around” as though they were there in person. Features include:
–Visual search for restaurants: Immediate visual impressions of more than 1,300 Boston area restaurants provide an idea of ambiance and neighborhood
–Plan a night out: Select a restaurant and then share it with friends
–Read reviews, menus and restaurant information: Panoramic images are augmented by the restaurant details section so diners can make an educated dining decision
EveryScape will now be one of the choices on this menu of Bing Map apps (though it doesn’t appear to be live yet):
You’ll be able to “enter” local businesses where EveryScape has photographed the interior:
Google has embarked on an initiative to photograph local business interiors for free. EveryScape charges money for the imagery. However EveryScape has been doing this for several years and has a big head start.
The company is also going to announce a range of other local partners in the coming weeks and months.
Here’s the Bing Maps blog post announcing “EveryScape Eats” and other Map apps as well.