Archive for the ‘Newspapers’ Category

‘Hyper-Local’ Sites Need HL Ad Nets

January 12, 2010

Even though I was one of the original users of the term “hyper-local” I’m now an opponent of the phase. But those sites that are focused on communities and neighborhoods need monetization that does a better job for them than AdSense. One approach is Cox-owned Adify, which allows the creation of custom or vertical ad networks. Adify is the back-end and infrastructure behind SLOAN: Sacramento Local Online Ad Network and other similar networks. According to the press release put out last month:

Developed in conjunction with Adify, a vertical ad network platform, SLOAN is currently creating agreements with several local publishers. To date it includes The Sacramento Press, The Rancho Cordova Post, Gold River Online, Elk Grove Online, SacMix, The Sac Rag,, and The Tomato Pages Network and is growing.

While SLOAN will provide support and a new revenue channel to independent, online publishers, each online publisher will have total control over its ad campaigns. Accepting or opting out of ads is completely at the discretion of each individual publisher and websites will remain autonomous. In addition, readers will not see any changes in the content or the in-depth coverage and focus their communities receive from the publisher. SLOAN was also designed so advertisers can take advantage of SLOAN’s reach and targeted audiences.

This is a model that can and should be replicated by other collections of local sites.

Mark Potts reminds me that GrowthSpur is out there building local ad networks too. 


NYT Turns Local Blog Over to J Students

January 12, 2010

The NY Times said that it’s turning over control of one of its local blogs, covering Brooklyn, to journalism students from CUNY:

The New York Times is turning over day-to-day control of a blog covering parts of Brooklyn to the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism, in what could be a model for expanding hyper-local coverage to many communities at minimal cost.

While The Times has assigned reporters and editors to its two community blogs, dubbed The Local, most of their content already comes from outside contributors, including readers who submit articles, tips, comments, video and other material. Now, the daily responsibility for operating the blog covering Fort Greene and Clinton Hill will rest not with Times journalists, but with professors and students at the CUNY program.

The other Local blog, for Maplewood, Millburn and South Orange, will continue to be operated by Times personnel.

As the post indicates, this would seem to be a model that other publications could emulate fairly easily. The statement about “minimal cost” above suggests that contributors are not paid at all or paid nominal amounts.

This Was a Transitional Year

December 17, 2009

In retrospect we may see 2009 as a kind of critical transitional year for advertising and media as well as the Internet and mobile. I’ve argued 2009 is/was the long-awaited “year of mobile.” 

Here’s what I said at the end of last year about what would happen this year:

  1. The one big trend is mobile. The Internet gets much more mobile with millions more routinely accessing content, social networks, etc. “on the go.” There are more laptops now than desktops and netbooks are selling very well. There will also be a range of interesting new connected mobile devices. All of these developments have a range of implications for site design, business models and location awareness. Absolutely everyone in the local segment needs to mobilize now or in 2009. This is all real — right now.
  2. Beyond mobile, desktop location awareness is much more pervasiveBrowser, OS, etc.
  3. The “inventory product infrastructure” becomes more widespread and this has major mobile implications too.
  4. I would also say that 2009 will be a very interesting year for traditional TV. Nielsen says that TV viewing is at an all time high but TV “engagement” is not. Younger people are not watching as much TV and are much more engaged with the Internet and mobile. (I was  on a ski lift this week with a 20something texting as he rode up the mountain). When the “digital switch” happens in February in the US, there may be several million people caught off guard. It’s the TV industry’s “Y2K moment.” Some people may simply walk away from conventional TV.
  • Other than that there will be M&A activity . . . and many startups don’t survive.
  • All the SMB marketing migration will continue: video and online marketing adoption, etc. But no big breakthroughs will happen; it’s all incremental growth.
  • Print media including newspapers and yellow pages continue to suffer and see usage losses.

What are some other things that happened that you think were significant or will in time prove to be significant? All the Google local initiatives: 10 Pack, 7 Pack, Local Listing Ads I would throw in as significant developments for the local segment in particular this past year.

Speaking at Borrell in NY in Feb

December 17, 2009

Gordon Borrell asked me to moderate a session or two at their Local Interactive Advertising show coming up in February in New York. Looks like it will be very good and very focused on “monetization,” which will be quite interesting and different. 

He’s got a lot of good speakers lined up. The dynamics, mix and emphasis is somewhat different than the Kelsey shows and so people will want to take a look. 

Speakers include some of the “usual suspects,” but lots of newspaper folks and some others who don’t typically appear at local shows.

Has G’s Success Sewn the Seeds of Its Overthrow?

December 14, 2009

I’ve been thinking a great deal lately about what I’ve inelegantly called the rise of “crap content.” I like better RWW’s “content farms” and TechCrunch’s “fast food content” to describe the new “content factories” (i.e., Demand Media and AOL). The following is from an AOL editor’s email via Business Insider:

The email, from an editor at AOL site, encourages writers to produce 300-500 word stories fast in a style that’s “colorful, concise, [and] opinionated.” But he doesn’t want them to go too far.

“We’re not Gawker, so be friendly and authoritative.”

He tells them stories don’t have to be based on original reporting. He writes, “All we want to know for a pitch is: what’s the story, who broke it (AP, NYT, BW, Bloomberg,etc.), and how you will advance the story if you are following someone else’s reporting,” reads the email.

When writers file their copy, they’re expected to “Include 140 characters for a Tweet or Facebook update.”

AOL wants its editors to write in a way that will help Google will find their stories — that they’re “search engine optimized.” For example, the RentedSpaces editor tells his staffers to “make sure the first few words and first graf contain the critical keywords.”

Now VC Fred Wilson has written a post riffing of these ideas. It’s very consistent with some thoughts I’ve recently been having. He talks about how social networks may become increasingly relied upon as search results potentially turn into what I would contend is the online equivalent of cable TV: a wasteland of content.

We now can’t imagine the digital world without Google at its (epi)center, but a time will surely come when Google isn’t. Is that day 5, 10, 20 or 30 years from now?

I don’t know the timing, but I do know that Google’s importance and centrality to the online ecosystem and the corresponding greater and greater focus on SEO has spawned the following model and emphasis:

  • Low paid freelancers (or unpaid UGC bloggers) write short stories off press releases or original reporting somewhere else (often borderline plagarism)
  • Those “content” pages are optimized for search results primarily to drive page views (for display ad CPMs). The ad is the reason for the content, which is necessary to permit indexing
  • Quality is banished in favor of speed and quantity

Much of the “quality” content from traditional media — granted there is much crap coming from traditional media too — that was indexed in search results is giving way to the crap because the business models that supported quality content creation (writers, editors) are being undermined by the Internet.

In the future quality exists, and indeed becomes more important, but it becomes potentially harder to find. In this not-so-hypothetical future search remains important. But because of increasing noise in search results (or the return of noise), trust and potentially greater efficiency, people turn to word of mouth on social sites with increasing frequency.

It’s a highly plausible theory.

Global Survey: 13% Willing to Pay for Content

December 13, 2009

The WSJ used survey firm used GFK to poll consumers in 15 EU contries, Turkey and the US about Internet behavior and attitudes. Here’s how the results came out when people were asked about advertising vs. subscriptions/paid content attitudes (click to enlarge graphic):

Source: WSJ/GFK

Thirteen percent said they would pay and, perhaps not surprisingly, 33% said that “all Internent content should be free, without advertising.”

Newspapers OK — Elsewhere

December 12, 2009

MediaPost rounds up some World Assn. of Newspapers data that shows print is healthy in the developing world, and Japan (which is very interesting). Here are the bullets from around the globe:

  • Globally, 1.9 billion people choose to read a newspaper every day, or 34% of the world population, while 24% use the internet.
  • The biggest newspaper market in the world is India, with 107 million daily sales. India, China and Japan account for more than 60% of the world’s newspaper sales, with the USA taking 14%.
  • In terms of sales per 1,000 adult population, Japan leads the world with 612, followed by Norway with 576, and Finland with 482. In terms of reach, 91% of Japanese continue to read a newspaper daily, remarkable in such a technologically advanced and wired society.
  • Advertising revenues fell an estimated 20% in North America, 19% in eastern Europe, 16% in western Europe, and 11% in the Asia Pacific in 2009, according to PwC.
  • The US market has been hardest hit, with advertising revenues in the third quarter of 2009 falling nearly 29% in print and nearly 17% on digital platforms over the same quarter in 2008. But revenue declines mirror declines in other industries.

I’ll speculate that the culture of Japan as well as the Scandinavian countries appears to be a bit of a brake on the corrosive effect of the Internet on print readership. It’s not clear that one country’s experience can be applied to another for this reason.

The broader European market, which had formerly been seen as resisting the US pattern of print decline, is now suffering the same trends.

Future ‘Newspapers’ Starting to Emerge

December 10, 2009

Allan Mutter offers a great capsule analysis of the predicament of newspapers and the historical forces that landed them there:

The collapse of the newspaper business most assuredly was aggravated by the downturn in the economy. But it is important to note that the sales decline was well under way before the economy cratered. It is a grave mistake to think, as some industry leaders apparently do, that the industry’s problems will be solved when the economy improves.

Without reproducing Mutter’s analysis or my previous discussions on newspapers, I’ll say this about the future . . . 

Newspapers have basically lost the distribution game, similar to other traditional industries now competing online. Some local news-publisher brands have decent traffic and have built online audiences, but portals, search engines and aggegators of various stripes have won. This is about the scale of the Internet and the better user experience and greater efficiency that these sites can bring to end users.

As symbolic evidence of this the NY Times’ Saul Hansell just left to become the head of AOL’s unit, managing the company’s more than 2K writers and freelancers. This is the “newspaper” model of the future and Hansell (perhaps wisely) sees that. Time will tell whether he helps maintain and boost quality or if he simply presides over a mountain of mediocre content designed primarily to generate page views for ads. 

Portals such as MSN, Yahoo! and AOL are also moving aggressively into local news by doing deals with various types of publishers. MSN’s just announced deal with Hearst and NBC Local Media is one of several examples. Big branded news sites such as CNN and MSNBC have moved much more into local content. So this arena — once thought to be the salvation of newspapers (“hyper local”) — is being squeezed by larger online players, with the help of some of the affected entities. But it’s a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” scenario because these larger sites control distribution and audiences. 

If News Corp. pulls its content from Google, for example, that content simply “won’t exist” for many users. News Corp. will suffer not Google. 

The thing that newspapers can offer that some of the online competitors cannot as readily is quality content, but that’s being undermined by layoffs and increasing reliance on wire services: AP, Reuters, AFP, etc. 

The online world is “flat” and everyone is everyone else’s competitor. The distinctions between radio, print and TV don’t exist online. Period. 

The audiences, with few exceptions, will continue to migrate toward these larger sites that can bring together a wide range of news and features content, with video and other functionality. MSN Local Edition is a great example. You can criticize it as incomplete or lacking depth but it will continue to get better. 

There are newspaper publishers among the top news sites; however only the largest and most battle-tested of these publishers will make it as audiences consolidate around fewer and fewer major online players. Most news content creators will turn into feeder sites for these bigger players, making revenues very difficult to generate; they’ll get a fraction of what they used to get when they owned sales, content and distribution in the print world. That will require further layoffs and cost cutting in turn — the downward spiral. 

At the bottom or low end, bloggers and specialized publishers (with different cost structures or very lean) will produce generally better vertical and “hyper local” content. They’ll be supported by larger networks or third parties, such as facilitating distribution to the larger sites like CNN. However local “hard” news may suffer as bloggers and vertical publishers steer toward more commercial or feature oriented content and fluff/gossip, rather than covering the school board or police beat. 

TV news and newly beefed up radio news online (such as NPR) will also fill the gaps left by the failing traditional newspapers. And the wire services will provide the national “commodity” news that is distributed everywhere. Reuters, for example, also recently redesigned to make itself more of a consumer news destination. 

The argument that quality is being drained from news (or will be) because of the demise of traditional news publishers is partly correct but not entirely. Outlets such as NPR, CNN, Reuters, AFP, PBS, TV networks and others such as Pro Publica will provide ongoing high levels of quality to the range of news aggregators, portals and a few others that are becoming dominant. At the local level it’s more complex. 

The decline of classifieds advertising for local publishers and their generally poor financial position will increasingly remove them from the realm of buyers of local online services, just as the yellow pages have been somewhat compromised in their ability to invest and/or buy local online startups. Thus the local ecosystem becomes weaker (this is an argument that Hearst’s Scott Wolfgang made to me a long time ago). 

News and journalism are not dying, but the ability to make a good living as a journalist is getting much harder. Consumers largely won’t pay for “commodity” news content as the pay walls go back up. So there will be more bankruptcies, more consolidation and more failures on the horizon. The post-newspaper apocalypse is grim for journalism as a career and bad for certain types of content and coverage but consumers may hardly notice in major markets. Most of their news will come from big portals, which will be able to put together enough content from enough different sources to be sufficient for most readers and audiences. There will also be a few other big news brands that survive. Vertical sites and blogs will satisfy enthusiasts’ needs for niche or specialized coverage. Many of the top tech blogs are being run by former traditional journalists. 

In a few non-metro local markets maybe traditional news publications will continue to survive or even thrive. But it will be very hard for individual municipal/metro editions to make it: they won’t have enough traffic to generate great ad revenues and their audiences will largely be unwilling to pay subscription fees. Even the NY Times, which will survive, will be subject to many of these trends. 

I had a friend say to me just yesterday that he considers his subscription to the print NY Times to be a “charitable contribution.” There you have it. a ‘Hub’ for Local Content

December 8, 2009

I just spoke to CEO Mark Josephson about the CNN investment and second funding round. He told me that it really came out of an “organic” business development discussion surrounding CNN’s use of for publishers.

“They had the same vision,” said Josephson. “They saw the importance of all the new content creators and the aggregation model.” He added, “We’ve been able to prove that people care about what’s close to home. They see the value of that model.”

Josephson credited founder Steven Johnson with the vision that he’s now executing. He also told me that is driving traffic “over seven figures” in free clicks to local content creators.

After he said that it occurred to me what was turning into: a hub that manages the flow of traffic and content between larger publishers and local bloggers and others who are generating the content “on the ground.”

Accordingly is building a “hyper-local” content ecosystem. As I tried to argue, hyper-local is not itself the answer to traditional media woes but it is a critical component of a larger news or content strategy and has positioned itself in the center of that proposition. Raises $7M, Deal with CNN

December 8, 2009

Many people touted “hyper-local” news as the salvation of journalism and newspapers in particular; it’s not. It’s a compelling feature of a larger offering. That’s what the major news sites now see clearly:

  • MSNBC with its acquisition of Everyblock
  • Yahoo! with its new original content and local emphases
  • And now CNN with its investment in

According to the press release:

As part of its investment, CNN Worldwide entered into a concurrent multi-year deal to use the for Publishers aggregation and curation platform to power hyperlocal news across all of and its related properties. The first implementations are expected to be completed in Q1 of 2010.

Blogs, real-time content and more localized news (broadly defined) are becoming must-have features for larger news organizations. Companies such as and Topix are in strong positions to provide that content to these third parties.

For its part is pursuing a dual strategy as a recently redesigned local search destination even as it offers a range of tools and content syndication for developers and publishers. has raised an estimated $12 million including this round. While the site began as a heady, if unusable project, CEO Mark Josephson has put it on solid ground toward a viable business model and eventual exit.

Here’s a page (via Fred Wilson’s blog) that shows the integration of on the NY Post site:


Related: Here’s a recent interview with CEO Mark Josephson on Media Bistro.

Is Crap the Future of Online Content?

November 30, 2009

More and more professional editorial is giving way to low-paid freelancers or upaid UGC. David Carr’s piece The Fall and Rise of Media contains the following observation:

That carnage has left behind an island of misfit toys, trains whose cabooses have square wheels and bird fish who are trying to swim in thin air. The skills that once commanded $4 for every shiny word are far less valuable at a time when the supply of both editorial and advertising content more or less doubles every year.

Where do all the burgeoning pixels come from? Everywhere, and cheap at that. An outfit called Demand Media now tests headlines for reader salience and cranks out thousands of articles and videos daily that it pays about $20 apiece for.

While user-generated content and “crowdsourcing” work well for certain kinds of content creation (e.g, online reviews), it’s not equally applicable for all situations and use cases. This is not a new view of course, but experts and professionals have an important role to play in the future of online content. This is where Yahoo! and AOL both hope to excel BTW.

Salon CEO Richard Gingras makes the point that brands matter even more today than in the past:

“I do think that in the content space, as we see the print publications decline, I think brands matter more than ever,” he said. “I think brands with sharp personalities matter more than ever, and I think that presents an opportunity for salon.”

I totally agree with him. Trust and quality, two values that content brands should stand for, will continue to gain in importance in this new world of digital serfs and sloppy UGC.

What do you think? Will people care about experts and editorial quality going forward?

iPhone’s Culture of Paid Content

November 30, 2009

The iPhone and its “paid apps” have created a culture that makes users more inclined than the general population to pay for content. As was widely reported last week UK law firm Olswang released findings from a consumer survey (in the UK, n=1,013) that showed iPhone users are more willing to pay for things than others.

In the charts below the blue bars are iPhone users, the red all respondents. The question, essentially, is what would you pay for:

At the very top above, 30% of iPhone owners say they would pay for “newspaper articles or columns which you can read on a PC or portable device . . .”  That compares with 19% of the general respondent sample. The numbers are higher for magazines: 38% vs. 29%  overall.

While it will be very difficult for newspapers (absent some clever pricing/bundling) to get people to pay for their content online, mobile and eReaders represent an opportunity to create a new “culture,” that will support paid subscriptions. The problem, however, is that already much of the newspaper content is available for free on the iPhone and other smartphones via the mobile Internet or apps.


Related: See David Carr’s eulogy (of sorts) for traditional print media . . . and Andrew Shotland’s SEO-related advice for newspapers.

Pull Articles from Google, Lose Traffic

November 25, 2009

The newspaper “de-indexing” movement is gaining steam it would appear. This is partly an irrational “revenge” play by newspaper publishers who blame Google for their own inability to really adapt to a culture in transition. Wounded and reeling from subscriber and ad revenue losses they’re “striking back.”

There are now several publishers in league with Murdoch & Co. considering pulling their content from Google (we’ll see if it actually happens).

I’m mostly taking the day off but I’ll say this . . .

The strategy will utterly fail. Google will not be hurt, Bing will not see a great uptick in traffic (if it’s the exclusive partner) and the newspapers will lose visibility, page views and ad revenues as a consequence. Contrary to their fantasies, it will also hurt their brands (how much would remain to be seen).

The current newspaper predicament is the result of inertia and a failure to act over a period of years, as well as hubris to a degree. Their belief in the value of their content (especially at News Corp.) and, if removed from Google, its capacity to humble the search engine is misplaced. Newspapers need to build more user-centric experiences and have myriad, different ways to distribute their content — as well as offer clever subscriber incentives, etc. (Obviously this is a crude list of recommendations.)

This emerging “take that” approach will simply boomerang and accelerate their current decline.

How Much Do You Care about Newspapers?

November 23, 2009

There’s lots of discussion and controversy stemming from a report that appeared in the Financial Times yesterday. In the article Microsoft is said to be seeking News Corp’s participation in a plan to withdraw content from Google:

Microsoft has had discussions with News Corp over a plan that would involve the media company being paid to “de-index” its news websites from Google, setting the scene for a search engine battle that could offer a ray of light to the newspaper industry.

The impetus for the discussions came from News Corp, owner of newspapers ranging from the Wall Street Journal of the US to The Sun of the UK, said a person familiar with the situation, who warned that talks were at an early stage.

However, the Financial Times has learnt that Microsoft has also approached other big online publishers to persuade them to remove their sites from Google’s search engine.

News Corp and Microsoft, which owns the rival Bing search engine, declined to comment.

One website publisher approached by Microsoft said that the plan “puts enormous value on content if search engines are prepared to pay us to index with them”.

Essentially then Microsoft would be paying newspaper publishers to allow indexing of content in Bing and de-indexing that content from Google. There’s lots of discussion on Techmeme and Danny Sullivan at SEL has a long and thoughtful article about why this wouldn’t work. By contrast, some like Mark Cuban think it’s a smart plan.

I’m going to take a much cruder approach to this debate and argue that newspaper brands have generally become weak and news content available from multiple sources. Accordingly the strategy wouldn’t help Microsoft as much as the report impliedly argues. People care less and less about newspaper content (per se), as a practical matter. They care about content and information not that the information came ultimately from Source X or Source Y (e.g., newspaper vs. directory or portal). Brands do matter, but this is a more nuanced conversation.

If Microsoft were to create a “kick ass” online news experience with exclusive content from top publishers it might gain usage as a destination. It wouldn’t impact Bing search volumes in any material way however, in my view. Furthermore, it also wouldn’t impact Google usage in a material way either.

If I want the score in the Cal-Stanford “Big Game,” from Saturday I could still get it on Google. If I want news headlines, there will be enough sources indexed to get the information. Google’s deal with AP would cover most national news and its AFP deal would do the same for international news.

More likely people will navigate to those news sources/aggregators that they like and trust to get news content. For example, I go to Yahoo! News and the NY Times for most of my news checks during the day. I don’t really look to search Google for news, except to do a quick navigational lookup for a specific story. (I suppose this is the Bing plan, pulling that from the Google index.) As a practical matter content that isn’t indexed will simply fall off the radar screen for the majority of the online audience.

Do you disagree? Let me know what you think.


Update: There’s plenty of research and data that says people go to newspapers sites and care about news content. According to recent Scarborough data:

  • 79% of adults in white-collar jobs read a newspaper in print or online.
  • 82% of adults with household incomes of $100K+ per year read printed or online newspaper content.
  • 84% of college graduates or those with advanced degrees read content from either the print or online version of a newspaper each week.

I’m arguing that people don’t necessarily care that news content shows up in search results, nor will they miss any particular publication in search results if it’s removed.

‘What’s Happening?’: Twitter’s Geo-API ‘Huge’

November 20, 2009

Twitter’s COO Dick Costolo said this morning at the TechCrunch CrunchUp event that he felt the “geo opportunity” was “huge.”

The location-stamping or geocoding of content and the release of that data to third parties (online and in mobile) will unleash a wide range of creative applications and expressions for local tweets. Indeed, Costolo emphasized that mobile would be a prominent use case for this location-oriented data. That’s clear, as people look to Twitter-enabled local-mobile apps to find out who’s around and what’s going on.

Accordingly Twitter changed its tagline from “What are you doing?” to “What’s happening?” This intrinsically lends itself to location-oriented tweeting. 

With appropriate controls and filters Twitter becomes more viable as a “local search engine.” Right now there’s too much noise. To date some of the apps that have tried to ground Twitter data locally have simply located Twitter users on maps or augmented reality apps. Now the tweets and content itself will be capable of being located and can help “annotate” places (see Flook). 

Twitter and its ecosystem could also potentially could develop further in the Q&A arena. Some people ask questions on Twitter but the results and responses are inconsistent. Location-filtered Twitter communities could start to use the service to find out all kinds of information about things, places and events. There are also a ton of marketing implications, from analytics to enabling businesses to target broader groups of people in their service areas. 

I see lots of creative potential here and am eager to see how these applications play out in the next several months. 

With this move Twitter — or the Twitter data more properly — will likely become a significant player in local. All the traditional local players and competitors should be thinking about how to tap into this data to enhance their own existing services or to build new ones on top of this information.

Google Moving Deeper into Real Estate

November 20, 2009

Google likes to do things that “scale,” which is why it has been difficult for the company to create vertical solutions of depth. Maps and local is an area that Google has invested hugely in but, by and large, the company has not built out compelling vertical content areas or services.

What’s happening with real estate is very interesting because it’s playing off of Maps and local developments — a case of “synergy” that enables Google to offer an increasingly credible real estate search capability. Google has offered housing/real estate search for some time. But now it appears to be getting much more serious. Matt McGee covers the integration of Place Pages into the mix. And the Google Australia Blog describes the ways in which Google may indeed become a force in the real estate vertical (at least in terms of listings):

We also wanted to tell you about the integration of real estate listings with Place Pages. Now clicking the “more info” link next to a listing takes you to a faster, easier-to-read page that gives you all of the information we have about a listing: photos, inspection times, videos, details, a Street View preview and nearby public transit information if available, allowing you to quickly find the listing you want and click through to the sources of the listing. 

Here’s a “real estate” search on maps for my old San Francisco zip code:

Each of the listings has a Place Page (this is the game changer for Google potentially):

As mentioned above, these pages may/will contain video as well. The content on these pages is also as good or better than the listings detail pages of most real estate sites. 

The key to successful real estate search is comprehensiveness and depth. Google’s goal is likely to be able to show all properties for sale in a given market. If in fact they can get there (which people can argue about) then real estate search on Google will become more widely used. The Place Pages supply the depth of detail about the listing that prospective renters/home buyers want. The advertising implications (together with Local Listing Ads for agents) are self-evident. 

Real Estate verticals “going forward” will need to compete with community, as well as value added services, data and other features.

What Medium Is ‘Most Trusted’ in Local?

November 18, 2009

This morning comes a post from TMPDM, citing a Forrester consumer survey about trust and media. In the survey YP comes out on top:

This is Q3 data. It’s tough to see but the order goes:

  • YP (assume people interpreted to mean print)
  • Newspaper ads
  • In store display ads
  • Consumer reviews/opinions
  • Magazine ads
  • TV
  • Direct mail
  • Radio
  • Email
  • Etc.

Compare the 2008 OPA-Jupiter study (n=2,069):

The above is a little “apples to oranges” because the choices are limited to online media. And now for Nielsen:

This study was global and had more than 25K respondents, whereas the other data is US only.

Clearly there are significant variations in the rankings. How would you account for them beyond the reasons I already provided?

Consumers to Resist Pay Walls

November 16, 2009

No surprises here: Forrester discusses the results of a consumer survey in which it’s reported that 80% won’t pay once the newspaper pay walls go up:

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These data are consistent with a recent Harris survey that found largely the same thing:

Picture 177

Attitudes and behavior are frequently different so we’ll need to actually see what happens when the pay walls appear. But we can be relatively confident that a majority of consumers in the beginning will shun the paid content. The question is: what happens over time and will the publications hold on and be patient or will they blink if consumers push back and say “no”?

More interesting to me are the strategies that consumers find acceptable. In the first chart above a total of 16% seemed to say they would pay for a digital only subscription or a print-online-mobile subscription. Will enough of these people emerge to offset the ad losses from page views concealed behind pay walls? It’s an interesting question.


Related: Here’s yet another discussion of similar survey results from the Boston Consulting Group (reported in the NY Times):

Among regular Internet users in the United States, 48 percent said in the survey, conducted in October, that they would pay to read news online, including on mobile devices. That result tied with Britain for the lowest figure among nine countries where Boston Consulting commissioned surveys. In several Western European countries, more than 60 percent said they would pay.

When asked how much they would pay, Americans averaged just $3 a month, tied with Australia for the lowest figure — and less than half the $7 average for Italians. The other countries included in the study were Germany, France, Spain, Norway and Finland.

Google Improves Movie Listings

November 12, 2009

Google has done a few things to beef up its presentation of movie listings. The Google Blog explains the catalog of the new features:

  • Comprehensive movie pages . . . Our new detailed layout brings together all the basic information you need with a plot synopsis, trailer, reviews and photos in the same page.
  • Genre filters: The new movie pages also give you new ways to explore films by genre and find one you’re in the mood for . . .
  • Map view: After you’ve chosen a movie, the new map view shows you nearby theaters playing that exact film. You no longer need to do a separate search to find out where you’re going.

Picture 7

Picture 9

Unfortunately the Map View above doesn’t offer Google’s customary “search nearby” capability.

This is a richer and cleaner display than you get at Yahoo! or Bing, which surprised me given that the Bing results for the touch-screen mobile devices are very nice.


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Picture 10

Curiously also I was asked to register for Windows Live when I clicked the link at the top. The new MSN does a better job than Bing right now for movies, although Bing refers people to the old MSN when one clicks through.

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These kinds of little changes, such as Google made above, can be meaningful to people and reinforce loyalty and usage.

New MSN’s Local Edition Trumps Papers

November 7, 2009

I wrote about the MSN homepage relaunch at SEL last week. There I mentioned that there was extensive local content as part of a “Local Edition” section. Circling back now, I have to say Microsoft has done a very nice job integrating a broad and useful range of local information here into a relatively deep content area. Although it surfaces local newspaper stories, it’s essentially a replacement for a local paper (with the exception of newspaper features content):

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Notice the contextually and geographically targeted ad inventory on these pages. Eventually this all will make it into mobile.

None of Microsoft’s immediate competitors has something comparable. You can get news, sports, movies and traffic information — the same content — from all of them. However the experience is disconnected or verticalized. AOL’s MapQuest Local is probably only thing that’s comparable in terms of its “horizontal” nature and maybe iGoogle; however these pages require (or permit) users to set up the various content modules they’re interested in. (I’m a fan of MapQuest Local.)

Local is one of the “four strategic verticals” that Microsoft is emphasizing with Bing. Along those lines, I had an interesting conversation with Microsoft’s Kevin Hagwell the other day about local and it was apparent that they’re doing some very interesting thinking about it at Microsoft.

Take a look and let me know whether you think MSN has created a winner.