Archive for the ‘Newspapers’ Category

Mesmerized by the iMperfect iPad

April 4, 2010

The iPad is a strangely compelling device I’m discovering, less than a day after picking it up from my local Apple store. It’s at once familiar and very unfamiliar, like someone you think you’ve met before but can’t figure out where. 

On the critical side I’ll say this, it will need a $100 price cut to become mainstream (just as the iPhone found). It will also need to get a bit lighter. At only 1.5 pounds it feels heavy after holding it for periods of time. And right now there are only a few apps available. Notwithstanding the statements that there are 2.5K iPad apps it feels a bit like a ghost town compared to the iPhone apps selection. Then there’s the fact that sites like Hulu that are all Flash obviously don’t work:

But Netflix compensates for Hulu’s absence. And YouTube works too.

Beyond Netflix, which is the device’s first “killer app” in my view, the best of the media apps I’ve explored so far is the one from the WSJ.

It’s a much fuller digital realization of the WSJ than the PC version of the site — ironically because you hold it as you do the paper and because it can look (and act in a way) more like the physical paper. Every magazine should probably be considering building an iPad app. 

Display and rich media ads that are thoughtfully done are going to hit it out of the park on the larger screen:

As everyone has said this is primarily a media and content consumption device rather than a content creation device — though apps such as Brushes and a few others contradict that early assessment. I would still rather write a blog post on my Macbook than on the iPad, though it’s possible to write one with the WordPress app or just through the traditional browser-based interface. Indeed, the Internet browser experience via the iPad is much more satisfying than the iPhone and other smartphones, and in many ways more satisfying than on the PC. 

I also really like iBooks and the way they’re presented. Others have criticized me for this, but I like the page turning simulation that it offers rather than a pure electronic rendering of the text. 

The device is also very fast. Many people have commented on this but it’s a striking feature of the tablet, as is the beautiful screen resolution. 

As I speculated yesterday, the iPad is not an “on the go” device. You’re not going to walk around the streets of New York with it. Much like the PC, you’ll use it to help make choices of where to go or what to buy (in the future) in the real world.

However the fact that its screen is large and you can carry it with you on the bed, in the bathroom, on the couch is what makes this such an interesting and compelling piece of aluminum and glass. It’s too early to tell but the iPad has an aura of leisure around it. I spent this morning reading the online version of the NY Times in my kitchen on the iPad and answering email. GMail on the iPad, by the way, is very nicely done and very satisfying. 

I haven’t done enough with it yet to know how it fits in to my digital activities entirely. I can tell you however that it has displaced my iPod Touch already, which had taken the place of my PC for many tasks. 

I have to say that the device, in the end, is “unnecessary” — but then so was the iPhone.

YPG Buys Canpages, Consolidates .Ca YP Biz

March 30, 2010

Not that it wasn’t already dominant, but Canada’s Yellow Pages Group (YPG) has bought its most successful/threatening remaining directory publishing rival, Canpages, in a $225 million transaction that includes US assets.

According to the press release out this morning:

Yellow Media Inc. (“YPG”) announced today that it has reached a definitive agreement to acquire Canadian Phone Directories Holdings Inc. (“Canpages”) from an investor group led by private equity firm HM Capital Partners for a purchase price consideration of approximately $225M. Canpages is a local search and directories publisher in Canada . . .

Headquartered in Vancouver, Canpages publishes 84 directories for a total circulation of approximately 8 million copies. The company’s website, Canpages.ca, attracts more than 3.5 million unique visitors each month. Canpages generates annualized revenues of $110M with an online contribution of approximately 23%. The Company employs about 700 people in Canada of which more than 450 are sales consultants . . .

In addition to the Canpages acquisition, YPG announced the contribution of its U.S. directory operations, YPG Directories, LLC, publisher of Your Community Phone Book (“YCB”), to Ziplocal, LP. YCB is the publisher of independent directories in selected Mid-Atlantic and Southeast American markets and was acquired from Volt Information Sciences, Inc. in September 2008. Ziplocal is a leader in providing an innovative source of information for the businesses and communities it serves. The company operates ziplocal.com, and once the two entities merge, Ziplocal will reach over 300 markets across the United States.

There are essentially two transactions: the acquisition of Canpages and the transfer of YPG US operations to Ziplocal, an online local search provider that had previously been acquired by Canpages. Previously Canpages announced a partnership with Utah-based Phone
 Directories
 Company (PDC). The latter was contributing its US online operations to Ziplocal. I would imagine that will still be in place, but may set the stage for another YPG acquisition.

One person described this transaction to me in email in this way: “This would be the equivalent of pulling AT&T, SuperMedia and DexOne together” in the US.

As the quote implies, YPG will be the dominant local media company in Canada. It will compete against a few smaller players in the directory industry and independent channels such as ReachLocal for local advertisers. There are also some newspaper publishers that may decide to make a bigger push into “local search.”

On the consumer side, it will compete with Yelp, Citysearch, Google and some newspaper owned city sites like Torstar’s Toronto.com. Foursquare is also in Canada and has a deal with daily newspaper Metro.

YPG is the supplier of local data to Google Maps in Canada.

The US local market is much more competitive than in Canada and Ziplocal is a minor player. But he US represents a growth opportunity for YPG.

This is just the latest in a series of transactions for YPG, which include the acquisition of sites like Restaurantica and several shopping-related destinations such as RedFlagDeals. The company now has a broad portfolio of local digital assets beyond its flagship yellow pages directory site.

Source: Google Shutting Reseller Program

March 29, 2010

This is a follow up to my earlier post on the rumor that Google was shuttering its AdWords reseller program.

I got an email this morning from someone, who asked not to be identified, and who said that Google confirmed the local AdWords reseller program in its current form is being shut down. The individual added that Google said the program may be reconstituted at some point in the future, although the timing of that was uncertain.

It thus does appear that this program, which was developed as a scalable way for Google to indirectly bring more local-SMBs into paid search and as a way for local publishers and media companies to bolster their online ad offerings, will be coming to an end.

I’ll be reaching out to Google for more information and potential confirmation. However, in response to the earlier rumors, Google issued the following statement:

“The Google AdWords Authorized Reseller Program is still active. We remain committed to building relationships with third party partners that enable small and medium-sized businesses to realize the benefits of cost-efficient, targeted and measurable online advertising solutions like AdWords.“

This is all double hearsay, as they say in the law, but the source is highly credible.

___

Update: From another source I just was told that the program in its current form will end in a couple of days at the end of March. Existing resellers will lose free API access at that time, which is potentially significant. (Publishers will still have access, they’ll just have to pay now.)

This same source said there was discussion that a new version of the program would be introduced at some point later this year.

Overall, this is a potentially significant development for the local market. For some players it will represent an inconvenience and for others it could have a more serious adverse impact. It will likely motivate further “diversification” of traffic sources among local publishers and sales channels.

Update 2: Here’s a more upbeat perspective from another party involved:

Google previously provided higher levels of support (and in some cases incentives) to local resellers and has decided that local resellers should be treated like other agencies where they have and account manager and pay for API access, since the local channel has matured.

I view this as a sign of success for local that the channel does not need extra care and feeding but can stand on its own. The churn issue is not a channel issue – Google has high churn for smbs who use adwords directly.

Rumor: Google AdWords Reseller Program Ending?

March 28, 2010

The Google AdWords reseller program has been a significant part of the local SEM landscape, enabling publishers, verticals and independent sales channels to gain credibility pitching SEM programs and packages to the local market. Here’s the current list of resellers. It includes AT&T, AdReady, Atlanta Journal Constitution, Citysearch, Clickable, Comcast, Hearst Newspapers, Network Solutions, Orange Soda, ReachLocal, Dex One, SuperMedia, YPG, Yellowbook and Yodle, among others. 

There has always been a certain tension between Google and some of its partners over margins and the percentage of advertiser spend going to buying media. Some of the partners seek “print-like margins,” while Google sees much smaller margins as being appropriate (agency like margins).

In the past couple of weeks there has been a rumor that the program is being shut down by Google:

Asked about this Google issued the following statement:

“The Google AdWords Authorized Reseller Program is still active. We remain committed to building relationships with third party partners that enable small and medium-sized businesses to realize the benefits of cost-efficient, targeted and measurable online advertising solutions like AdWords.

Earlier this year there was a rumor that Google was compelling, as a condition of certification, reseller partners to disclose to advertisers the percentage of the advertiser spend that was actually going to media vs. margin. Assuming this is accurate, it seems to be a response to the churn problem where some partners pocket 40% – 50% of the ad spend, for example, leaving not enough money to really deliver for the local advertiser — resulting in frustration and churn. 

If Google were to shutter the program it would not be the end of local SEM by any means. Resellers get a suite of services from Google:

However SEM buying could still be done in much the same way it is today. What would be lost is the “credibility” that comes with the certified reseller status. Again, Google has said the program is operating and that it remains committed to it. 

What do you know or have you heard?

___

Update: Someone wrote me privately and said that there were significant benefits to being a reseller . . . having to do with API account creation and related benefits. Here’s what he said:

The two repercussions of losing reseller status for large Adwords resellers would be the following:

1) Having to pay to use Google’s API. Currently resellers enjoy free API transactions.  At high volumes those costs are significant.

2) Not being able to create accounts through the Adwords API.  Here again, only resellers enjoy the benefit of being able to create a new Adwords account through the API, and when you’re talking about large volumes, forcing a reseller to create that many accounts by hand removes economies of scale

State of the News: Decline of Tradtional Media

March 15, 2010

Pew released its massive annual State of the News Media report. It’s enormous and enormously valuable with tons of data analysis about the full range of media: TV, radio, cable, local news and newspapers. Here’s an excerpt from the key findings about newspapers:

Online, an analysis of the list of Nielsen Net Ratings list of 4,600 news and information sites saw the collected number of unique visitors grow 9.25%, according to a PEJ analysis. But on that list the top sites tend to dominate. Of the 4,600 sites, the top 7% collect 80% of the traffic. And the top 20 sites attract the majority of that.

Legacy media still make up the majority of the most popular destinations, although each year newly created websites are joining the list. Of the news sites with a half million visitors a month (or the top 199 news sites once consulting, government and information data bases are removed), 67% are from legacy media, most of them (48%) newspapers. And most people graze though among a limited number of sites.

A new Pew Internet-PEJ survey finds only 21% say they tend to rely primarily on one destination for news online; only a third even say they have a favorite website. But these online news grazers do not range far. Most people, 57%, range from using two –to five websites, and only 12% use more than six.

The report also contains earlier survey findings that confirm consumer resistance to paying for content:

A new survey by PEJ and Pew Internet and American Life Project finds a tough market for building economics on the Web.

  • The findings suggest there is a difficult hill to climb in putting content behind a pay wall. Most people graze the Web for news rather than rely on primary sources. Only about a third (35%) can even identify a favorite news website. And of those that do, only 19% said they would continue to visit if that site put up a pay wall.
  • The prospects for growth in conventional display advertising also look difficult. The vast majority of Internet users, 79%, say they never or rarely had clicked on an online advertisement. They don’t mind them. They simply ignore them.

Here are a few charts that illustrate the fall of print newspapers:

Finally here’s a somewhat shocking chart showing revenue declines across traditional media:

Analog Analytics Helps Pubs Challenge Groupon

March 9, 2010

I had a very interesting discussion yesterday with Ken Kalb of Analog Analytics, a company which can either be described as a deals/coupon and mobile (SMS) marketing platform or an analytics provider for traditional media. But of course it’s both.

Here are the relevant paragraphs from the release:

Analog Analytics today officially launches its software platform to deliver highly monetizing interactive coupons, gift certificates and “Bigger Better Deals” for local publishers and advertisers in any media. Now, publishers of all types, including online, mobile, newspaper, TV, radio, motion picture and billboards, will benefit from the much higher click-through rates (CTR) of two- to ten-percent for these highly interactive offerings. This CTR amounts to 10 to 100 times greater than the national average for display ads. 

The Analog Analytics platform provides publishers which have struggled to make money with their online content with a mechanism to increase their ad revenue regardless of the media. It enables advertisers or publishers to create online, mobile or a text-message call-to-action print coupons or gift certificates, integrating and optimizing the performance of both traditional advertising and online interactive. With this solution publishers leverage advertising in multiple media concurrently from the software-as-a-service platform and immediately increase their ad revenue. 

Analog Analytics has already signed up a number of substantial customers including Village Voice Media, Local.com, Wick, Media News Group, the nation’s leading weeklies as well as 850 publishers and 2500 advertisers nationally.

I could now write 5K words. But I don’t have time. So I’ll try and hit a few high points. 

Analog Analytics is a platform licensed to mostly traditional media companies (as indicated in the list above). It enables publishers to offer a more “robust” coupon and deals solution in general and to better compete with the emerging “threat” from what I’ll call the “Groupon Segment.” 

The following is an example of a group-buying deal offering (“bigger, better deal“) from the company. In a sort of tongue-in-cheek way Kalb referred to this as “the Groupon killer.” It’s not but it gives traditional publishers a weapon against these fast-growing group-buying sites. 

Otherwise the company enables the local sales channel to sell/offer more traditional coupons and gift certificates:

The publisher can price and package any of this how it desires. Whereas Groupon, et al. offer an effective but limited new customer acquisition tool — I characterized it to Kalb as a “one-night stand” — the array of options here provide both new customer acquisition and CRM/loyalty capabilities. And, as I said, the flip side is traditional media analytics.

People redeem the coupon or opt-in to the SMS list and the publisher (and advertiser) sees how effective the traditional medium is — or isn’t as the case may be. But as the Analog Analytics release points out response rates with offers/deals are at least 10X vs. traditional display advertising online. 

Coupons/offers/deals isn’t merely a cute, consumer-friendly trend, it’s a digital and direct marketing phenomenon that’s here to stay. The Groupon proposition to the SMB is “no risk”: “you only pay if people buy.” It doesn’t get any more CPA than that.

Kalb also emphasized with me that these sites enable local businesses to book revenue in advance. The new products in the coupon and group-buying segments are “tangible” and easily understood by SMBs compared with clicks, “Which is an abstraction to small business,” explained Kalb. 

The market is changing quickly now for SMB marketing. Phenomena like social media and couponing are becoming more visible and effective tools and they often “cut out the middle man,” as people used to say. In this case the “middle man” is the traditional sales channel/publisher. 

If you take a deeper look it starts to become clear that “Grouponing” is just the clever packing of a more concrete form of direct digital marketing.

Why Pubs Can’t Charge for News Online

March 1, 2010

Pew has released a big new report (based on survey data) covering online (and mobile) news consumption. You can read or download the report here.

There are lots of interesting findings, just a few of which are as follows:

  • Six in ten Americans (59%) get news from a combination of online and offline sources on a typical day, and the internet is now the third most popular news platform, behind local television news and national television news.
  • While online, most people say they use between two and five online news sources and 65% say they do not have a single favorite website for news.  Some 21% say they routinely rely on just one site for their news and information.
  • 75% of online news consumers say they get news forwarded through email or posts on social networking sites and 52% say they share links to news with others via those means.
  • 51% of social networking site (e.g. Facebook) users who are also online news consumers say that on a typical day they get news items from people they follow.

Portal sites are the most commonly used source online for news:

Portal websites like Google News, AOL and Topix are the most commonly used online news sources, visited by over half of online news users on a typical day.  Also faring well are the sites of traditional news organizations with an offline presence, such as CNN, BBC and local or national newspapers.

What all this effectively means is that unless you’re a news “brand” (and there are very few) you can’t hope to charge anything for your content. And because traditional media no longer control distribution of their content online it will be equally difficult for them to make money on advertising because of a lack of reach.

Compare findings from the NAA and comScore about local newspaper websites being most trusted.

Survey: Local NP Sites ‘Most Trusted’

February 26, 2010

Newspaper sites are valuable and credible goddamit! A November 2009 survey among 3,050 US adults, sponsored by the Newspaper Assn of America (fielded by comScore), found the following:

Local newspaper Web sites ranked first among all sources for trustworthiness, credibility and being the most informative place to find local content of all types – including news, information, entertainment, sports and classified advertising. When respondents were asked what sources were most trustworthy or reliable, local newspaper Web sites bested local television sites by twelve percentage points for local information (34 percent vs. 22 percent), by six points for local sports (30 percent vs. 24 percent), by 10 points for local entertainment (30 percent vs. 20 percent) and by 29 points for local classifieds (42 percent vs. 13 percent).

Let’s look at some of the data from the associated report, Site Matters: The Value of Local Newspaper Web Sites, which asked consumers a range of questions about their sources for local information and how trustworthy and credible they perceived those sources to be . . .

Noticeably absent from the list above are yellow pages directories, search engines and city guides and other types of local sites such as Yelp — although they might fall into “other type of Web site” perhaps.

These are not all the findings but what they assert is the following:

  • People care about local information
  • Newspaper websites are the go-to sources for local news and other content
  • Newspaper websites are more trusted and credible for local information
  • Newspaper sites make the ads that appear on them more effective (for 40% of consumer-respondents)

These data echo a 2008 OPA study about newspaper and other local content sites, whose findings are somewhat more varied but generally consistent.

There’s no question that people value local content and newspaper sites are well regarded. Yet here’s TMP-comScore data (mirrored by other studies) that show something different in response to a slightly different question:

Many Would ‘Consider Paying’ for Content

February 18, 2010

The latest in a series of these types of surveys about whether consumers would pay for online content, Nielsen polled “more than 27,000 consumers across 52 countries” and found at least a potential willingness to pay for some content types.

According to the survey:

Consumers worldwide generally agree that online content will have to meet certain criteria before they shell out money to access it:

  • Better than three out of every four survey participants (78%) believe if they already subscribe to a newspaper, magazine, radio or television service they should be able to use its online content for free.
  • At the same time, 71% of global consumers say online content of any kind will have to be considerably better than what is currently free before they will pay for it.
  • As a group, they are ambivalent about whether the quality of online content would suffer if companies could not charge for it—34% think so while 30% do not; and the remaining 36% have no firm opinion.
  • But they are far more united (62%) in their conviction that once they purchase content, it should be theirs to copy or share with whomever they want.

However here’s the problem for online newspapers: “Nearly eight out of every ten (79%) would no longer use a web site that charges them, presuming they can find the same information at no cost.”

Despite that grim bullet, these findings overall provide some “hope” to publishers and traditional content producers that under the right circumstances they’ll be able to charge something for the digital versions of their content. We’ll see if tablets and the iPad have any impact on this. Most publishers will need to employ the carrot and the stick rather than just the stick to gain digital subscribers.

AOL Places Massive Local Bet on News Sites

February 17, 2010

SAI is reporting that AOL wants to create a massive network of local news sites and is recruiting writers to populate these sites. AOL wants to expand its Patch network from 30+ sites to “hundreds.”

Obviously this would mean lots of page views and a bona fide local ad network. The questions that arise, however, include:

  • Can they generate sufficient quality to achieve sustained readership and “brand” status?
  • What’s the ad model? It’s geotargeting for nationals and partnerships with local channels for SMBs
  • Will they pick the right partners and have the right content mix to create a compelling product?

A recent MediaWeek piece celebrates an existing version of this plan in Examiner.com:

Consider startup Examiner.com, led by former AOL Digital Cities exec Rick Blair. The company has tapped a staggering 29,000 writers, including former reporters, bloggers and passionate locals, in 240 U.S. cities. Blair says that Examiner.com now reaches 18 million unique users. But the majority of its writers are part-timers. “We tell people, ‘Don’t quit your day job,’” says Blair.

Most of the content flowing through Examiner.com (by my assessment) is crap content, however. It’s largely aimed at generating low-cost page views for ads — a variation on arbitrage. 

Yet if it’s all about page views and “shelf space” (SEO) for AOL and not about quality the effort will certainly fail.

How Do Newspapers Feel about the HotJobs Sale?

February 4, 2010

The original and central element of the Yahoo!-newspaper consortium was the HotJobs property. This was the core content and asset around which the “network” and consortium was built. It grew over time to include other properties and capabilities (search, ad serving/targeting). But now that Yahoo! is selling/outsourcing HotJobs to Monster how do the newspapers feel about it?

Here’s what the Monster press release says specifically about newspapers:

With the addition of HotJobs’s network of more than 600 daily and weekly newspapers, Monster’s alliances with local papers will grow to a total of approximately 1,000, giving Monster reach in all 50 states. The additional newspaper alliances, through their online and print classified ads, will further Monster’s current strategy of connecting job seekers with smaller, local businesses, particularly in healthcare, education, and skilled and hourly job categories.

Yahoo! will continue to manage its broader Newspaper Consortium (NPC) partnership, including providing both search and display advertising, content distribution, and its ad-serving platform, to newspapers in its NPC.

I don’t know whether or to what extent there was any consultation with them about this transaction. Do you think the newspapers care? Ought to care?

RetailMeNot December Coupon Data

January 29, 2010

Below are data from the latest monthly coupons report from RetailMeNot for December, 2009. You can download the pdf file here

One interesting observation is that with the single exception of Amazon, all the top “online” coupons pertain to brands that have physical stores as well.

Those interested in Internet2Go’s free webinar on mobile coupons (February 3 at 1 ET/10 Pacific) should register. The webcast features me, ValPak and Shooger.

Newsday Readers Don’t Pay, They Go Away

January 27, 2010

Many of you have by now read the NY Observer story about Newsday, which famously put up a paywall for online content late last year. After a little over three months at it, only 35 people have reportedly decided to pay the $5 per week that Newsday is asking:

That astoundingly low figure was revealed in a newsroom-wide meeting last week by publisher Terry Jimenez when a reporter asked how many people had signed up for the site. Mr. Jimenez didn’t know the number off the top of his head, so he asked a deputy sitting near him. He replied 35.

The article goes on to qualify this shocking number a bit by saying that print Newsday subscribers get online access for “free” and that a subscription to local cable provider Optimum Cable (owned by Newsday’s parent) also provides free online Newsday access. So one might look at the picture a little differently in that larger context.

What we might infer from this example is that online paywalls are better used as a print retention tool or as part of a larger product bundle (if that’s an option). The online only subscriber acquisition is clearly a failure.

(See also: Play Paywall!, the new web game sweeping the newspaper industry.)

This Newsday episode is widely being seen as a cautionary tale or harbinger of doom for the NY Times in its effort to go forward with a tiered pricing model in 2011.

I was speaking about all this this earlier tonight with a friend who was a journalist and is still an editor and writer. He said that unlike the NY Times or WSJ Newsday doesn’t have the same high-quality content. However very few other papers in the US do either.

There’s also much discussion on this “tablet eve” of whether Apple’s new device will make people more inclined to pay for content and thus boost the coffers of traditional media. In some contexts it may, iTunes is a nearly “frictionless” payment system that makes it very easy to buy. But that by itself, and/or a shiny new device, won’t solve traditional media’s problems.

However, it will likely accelerate the necessary movement of traditional media into more earnest efforts toward multi-platform distribution that includes online, mobile and, now, tablets.

____

Related: Only 2.4% of print newspaper subscribers are reportedly paying for online news access where paywalls have gone up:

Graphic from Alan D. Mutter

Looking for Deals: Newspapers Still Reign

January 25, 2010

Harris Interactive recently found that when it comes to looking for deals and coupons most people are still looking in newspapers and magazines — or believe these are the best places to find them. However, there are discrepancies when the data are segmented by age  and education.

Younger and more educated users tend to seek deals from online more frequently (click to enlarge):

Mobile isn’t on here but it’s growing in importance as a offer distribution channel. We’ll be talking about that with ValPak and Shooger on February 3 in a free webinar.

Twitter ‘Local Trends’ As ‘SEO’ Tool

January 25, 2010

As was reported late last week and today by Barry Schwartz at SEL, Twitter has launched “local trends,” which break down and reflect trending topics on Twitter regionally and by city. Here’s a screen capture by Lisa Barone at Outspoken Media:

What it shows is different topics trending in different cities/areas. It doesn’t show up for everyone yet, including me. For example, after yesterday the trends in Minnesota and New Orleans I’d imagine would be quite different.

This is very interesting of course, as Twitter becomes more “geo-sensitive,” but what will it mean at a practical level?

There’s an SEO strategy not-too-buried in here of course. And if Local Trends can be filtered at an even more “granular” local level that would be really interesting (i.e., zip, neighborhood). Indeed, as Local Trends rolls out it becomes a potentially effective way for a range of local businesses, local publishers and media companies, event promoters, and so on, to gain exposure and help people discover things in their areas.

Imagine a compelling deal at the local level, retweeted multiple times to become a trending topic in a particular area. I think there are many such possibilities like this. So rather than simply “narrowcasting” to a list of followers and hoping that they in turn promote the offer or event to their lists, Local Trends becomes a discovery tool for local users more broadly and a potentially effective marketing tool for sellers and publishers of various stripes, as mentioned.

We might also see this (Local Trends) picked up by Google for even more, traditional SEO value; we’ll see.

Kaiser Report on Kids Scary for Print Media

January 21, 2010

The Kaiser Family Foundation has released its annual report on kids and their media use. There was a lengthy article in the NY Times about it yesterday. The report and related presentation are free and they paint a scary picture for most traditional media, except for TV (although TV is down) and, surprisingly, radio.

Not surprisingly, Internet (especially social networking) and mobile are key areas of focus of these kids. And 84% of them have Internet access at home, many in their bedrooms. The press release summarizes the high-level findings. Here are a few noteworthy charts from the report:

While TV dominates media usage, there is considerable media multi-tasking during TV use (read: people only partly paying attention). Print media are just — to put it bluntly — screwed unless as these kids mature they spend more time with print. Don’t bet on it. Finally 25% of computer time is spent with social networks.

There are lots of implications for publishers and marketers, although there’s no discussion of advertising in these slides or in the larger report. Where are marketers going to be able to most effectively market to young people in the US? On social networks, in games, on mobile phones (SMS) and radio to some degree. Magazines may offer some effective marketing opportunities in selected cases. However, online “share of voice” is going to be tough; there’s lots of clutter and noise. Thus mobile may turn out to be the most effective tool for reaching youth accordingly.

TV is going to offer mixed results; it’s the largest audience (though it continues to fragment) but people aren’t paying attention to ads for the most part.

___

Related: Owners of digital readers actually read more books:

Among active readers who own an e-reader, about 48% reported reading more books as a consequence of having such products, as compared to those who do not own an e-reader where only 15% reported reading more books (44% vs. 23%, respectively for magazines); 36% percent of the books read by people with e-readers represent incremental consumption—meaning more than one-third of the books read on e-readers would not have been read in print

NYT Confirms Fees to Start in 2011

January 20, 2010

According to an article in the Times itself today the company will start charging visitors to access its site, after some number of free views. The system will kick in next year:

Starting in early 2011, visitors to NYTimes.com will get a certain number of articles free every month before being asked to pay a flat fee for unlimited access. Subscribers to the newspaper’s print edition will receive full access to the site.

But executives of The New York Times Company said they could not yet answer fundamental questions about the plan, like how much it would cost or what the limit would be on free reading. They stressed that the amount of free access could change with time, in response to economic conditions and reader demand.

Simply erecting a pay wall would kill traffic and result in a loss of ad revenues on the site accordingly. This approach seeks to balance ad revenue with generating new subscription dollars as print subscriber numbers continue to fall.

Repeatedly surveys have indicated that more than three quarters of US consumers won’t pay for access to news sites. This free + fee approach also seeks to be mindful of those data, by charging the most frequent users, who presumably value the site and would pay accordingly.

Previously the company abandoned its fee-based Times Select model because it determined it could make more revenue from advertising on free page views that the program was generating.

Related: The NYT’s press release on the matter.

More Newspapers Join the Chp. 11 Club

January 19, 2010

Just as yellow pages are exiting bankruptcy more newspapers are entering. Here’s a partial list:

  • MediaNews Group/Affiliated Media Inc. (owner of the San Jose Mercury News, among others)
  • Morris Publishing Group (see release)
  • Tribune Co. (owner of LA Times, Chicago Tribune; ongoing for the past year)
  • Philadelphia Media Holdings
  • Freedom Communications (Orange County Register)

Not in bankruptcy: Gannett, NY Times, News Corp., McClatchy, Hearst . . .

Jivox Adds Interactive Widgets to Video Ads

January 19, 2010

Video ad platform provider Jivox put out to two releases today, one details the company’s growth and various milestones over the past year. Among the verbatim highlights from that release: 

  • Rapid adoption of video ad platform: Jivox is now being used by over thirty media groups to offer online video ads to their clients, including 8 of the top 50 media companies in the U.S. and 3 of the top 4 newspaper groups.
  • Expanded distribution network: Jivox now offers advertisers distribution to over 1,000 web sites, growing the reach of its network to 85 million unique monthly visitors.
  • Larger brand advertisers: Building on the success of its service for smaller advertisers, Jivox is now delivering campaigns for many large brand advertisers, including AAA Insurance, General Motors, Nokia, Microsoft, HP, Wienerschnitzel, Sony and Samsung.

More important and interesting is the material from the second release: 

Jivox, the leading provider of interactive video ad technology for online media companies and advertisers, today introduced custom interactivity features in the platform that turn online video ads into interactive applications to drive user engagement and direct response. Using Jivox, creative agencies and advertisers can now add their own custom Flash or HTML applets to video ads so that users can interact with the ad without ever leaving the player. Jivox has also extended the interactivity available in Jivox’ in-banner video ads to in-stream video ads. Media companies will now be able to embed Jivox’s “in-stream ad plug-in” into a content player to easily serve a video ad in-stream, with full interactive and analytic capabilities.

What this means is that third party agencies and advertisers can plug-in their own code/widgets on top of video ad units. Here’s what it looks like on an ad for Roundtable Pizza:

These modules or widgets make online video ads much more social and/or interactive in obvious ways. This is also a “quick and dirty” way to localize online video advertising: take a national TV ad and cut it for online, then add a store locator and local coupons, etc.

Eventually we’ll probably see this functionality on TV itself. And certainly next up for these units is mobile. Social engagement platform AgendiZe also has the ability to layer interactive widgets on top of display or video ads as well.

I spoke with Jivox CEO Diaz Nesamoney on Friday about a number of things including the company’s ad network, which is apparently doing well. That ad network was the original differentiating feature for Jivox, which launched at a time when there were seemingly dozens of online video competitors focused on the SMB market. Since then a few companies have fallen away or behind and others have emerged as leaders. In that latter group I would place Jivox, Mixpo, SpotMixer, Turn Here and Spotzer (not in any particular order). 

Just as Mixpo has moved away from an exclusive focus on SMBs, so has Jivox (as the release bullets above show) and the company is now working with a range of national advertisers.

Harris Poll: 77% Won’t Pay for News

January 14, 2010

Survey after survey shows that roughly 80% of US consumers will not pay for online news content. The latest AdWeek/Harris Poll (2,136 US adults surveyed December 14 – 16, 2009) confirm this but also show that newspapers have larger demographic problems as well:

Less than one quarter of those aged 18-34 (23%) say they read a newspaper almost every day while 17% in this age group say they never read a daily newspaper.

Here’s newspaper readership frequency broken down by age segment:

The highest frequency readership of “newspapers” (print and online) comes from the older segments. I suspect if the question were worded somewhast differently the distribution might be different. For example if it were “how often do you read news online?” frequency would go up for younger users because they’re getting news but maybe not from “newspaper” sites.

The poll found that 23% of respondents would pay for access to news, with most of those willing to pay between $1 and $10 per month:

These data are broadly consistent with past studies that show roughly 80% of users don’t want to pay for online access to news. However there is an outlier survey from the Boston Consulting Group that found 48% of users would pay for access to news online and/or on mobile devices.

Surveys must all be taken with a grain of salt, however. There’s often a distinction between what people say they want or do and what they actually do in practice. But successive survey data are pretty consistent on this question of willingness to pay so we can expect the behavior to mirror attitudes in this case.

The question is, would that 23% in this survey, paying $10 per month, generate enough revenue? In addition, full pay walls will compromise ad revenues so no publication that relies on ad revenue could go to a subscription only approach.

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Related: AP, Yahoo Near Deal on Content Use

Taking a step toward mapping the future of online news, the Associated Press and Yahoo Inc. are closing in on a deal that would impose tighter restrictions and potentially a higher price tag on AP stories distributed on Yahoo’s news site, people familiar with the matter said . . .

Some Internet portals could be reluctant to sign on to a system that gives publishers extensive information and control over content. They might also decide that for all its news-gathering clout, the AP is not so indispensable that portals need to agree to more restrictions to carry its material . . .

But newspaper publishers hope that won’t be the case. In leading the way in these negotiations, the AP “could provide an opportunity for other newspapers and newspaper companies to ride that coattail and cut a similar deal with the aggregators,” said Jim Moroney, publisher of the Dallas Morning News.