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Posts Tagged ‘internet content’
In the digital age, if you’re a marketer you’re also a publisher. Rebecca Lieb has written a great piece in ClickZ which was republished the other day, and is well worth a read.
She argues that “Marketers have been creating content in all sorts of media in all kinds of channels since the beginning. But now that virtually every brand, manufacturer, service, and product you can think of is online (and likely runs its own Web site), content has blown wide open. Almost anyone involved in any type of online business can no longer hope to survive without a solid content strategy.”
In the 21st century equivalent of custom publishing, big brands such as Budweiser in the US even have their own online TV channel. Lieb writes: “Think of it as the online equivalent of a Disney or Warner Bros. theme park. You know the rides and merchandise are selling you something, but few people care about the church-and-state divide on branded territory.
“….Strong, well thought-out and executed content strategies create rewards for marketers. They go viral. They attract community. They can blow out SEO (search engine optimisation) to epic proportions. Rather than a company’s Web page showing up in organic results, content can generate page after page of relevant results.”
She concludes: “As an editor/marketer hybrid, I may have some bias here, but I’d be hard-pressed to think of a marketing problem that couldn’t be tackled head-on with a solid content strategy.”
Couldn’t agree more.
Heidi Cohen has written a terrific piece on ClickZ explaining why an integrated content strategy is a must in 2009 for companies looking for effective marketing spend. The article is well worth reading in total and saving/printing, but here are some highlights:
When creating a communications strategy, “your content must address consumers as people. You should supply them with relevant and engaging information without sounding like sanitized marketing-speak.” If you get it right, you will 1) extend your brand; 2) drive traffic to your site; 3) diversify the ways you engage with potential customers; 4) make it easier for people to find your site via search engines; 5) provide product support; and 6) build community.
Heidi outlines nine content formats to consider, including online video, podcasts, webinars and Twitter. She also discusses three ways to stretch your marketing resources online and five metrics to track (hint: page views are not on the list).
Attention potential clients: this is a preview of what we’ll be talking to you about next year. Thanks, Heidi!
Attended the Thoughtworks Quarterly Technology Briefing in Sydney yesterday, where the heads of News Digital Media (Sue Klose) and Fairfax Digital (Pippa Leary) outlined developments in online media in Australia, and picked up some interesting facts about Australian online media consumption:
- There are two spikes in visits to online news sites - at the beginning of the workday, when people check the news headlines; and at lunchtime, when they eat lunch at their desk and go for more entertainment info and videos
- 35,000 people watched the live stream of Barack Obama’s victory speech on Fairfax Digital. That same day, a video on the site about how to fold a shirt was viewed by 39,000 people
- Fairfax is claiming 2 million unique user per month just to its business and finance content, with 25-30 average page impressions per user
- Online video advertising is expected to reach US$2.9 billion in the US in 2009 - 13% of the online advertising total - but the figures for Australia are expected to be only a fraction of that
The evidence is gathering that online video is cannibalizing television consumption and revenue.
An IBM study that polled 2,800 people in six countries has revealed that more than three-quarters of people have viewed video online and nearly half do it regularly. Of those who have watched online video, 15% say that as a result they watch “slightly less” TV, while 36% said they watch “significantly less” TV.
Paying homage to the history of commercial television, 70% of online video viewers prefer the ad-supported model over consumer-paid models. They specify, though, that they prefer watching a commercial before or after an uninterrupted online video, and they don’t like product placement.
Almost 60% of the respondents said they were willing to provide to advertisers some personal information about themselves in exchange for something of value, such as access to high-quality music videos, store discounts or airline frequent-flyer points.
“The industry must find appealing ways to monetize new content sources or risk a similar fate as that of the music industry where value shifted away from core players,” said Saul Berman, the study’s co-author.
Meanwhile, eMarketer reports that while TV revenue growth is slowing, online video revenue growth is soaring - though the overall numbers suggest there is a fair amount of leakage in overall spend.
“This precipitous drop reflects not only the poor economic conditions, but fundamental changes in the way television advertising is being bought and sold,” says Carol Krol, eMarketer senior analyst. “Although there will be inevitable stumbling as they find their footing, the broadcast networks are making bold and interesting choices in an effort to follow consumers online,” says Ms. Krol. “They are collaborating with competitors, hooking up with online partners and forging alliances that were unheard of just a few years ago.”
Online video ad spending as a percent of TV ad spending is expected to nearly double over the next two years, however it will still only reach 1.7% in 2010 - and still less than 3.5% of overall online advertising spend.
Krol points out that there is still “no clear winning online business model for broadcasters,” and that online advertising revenue growth is less than offline media decline. Which raises the question: where is that money going?
Vin Crosbie from ClickZ writes that media and digital publishers have been ignoring the obvious business model for online publishing all these years - aggregating all content and allowing users to choose what they want to read/view. Think iGoogle, on a wider scale.
Traditional publishers toyed around with this concept years ago, but as Crosbie points out they never picked it up and ran with it because it would mean collaborating with their competitors (I wrote about this a couple of weeks ago in a post that was inspired by another piece Crosbie wrote). He calls it “not mass media, but individuated media on a mass scale.”
I understand what he’s getting at, but, frustratingly, he doesn’t go into details about how people actually make money out of this approach. One reason traditional media companies didn’t go down this route is that they correctly realised that if they just shift their traditional advertising models to the web in a format that shares profits with all the players, none of the players is going to make anywhere near the same revenue as they used to. To me, that’s where the digital business model is still missing - what do you make money out of besides banner ads?
Like a Molotov cocktail hurled into a crowd, Publishing 2.0 blogger Scott Karp has ignited the already heated debate about the future of journalism and publishing with his most recent post, entitled “The market and the internet don’t care if you make money”.
He’s pinched the title from Seth Godin, the marketing pundit who is peddling his latest book Tribes, but Karp takes the idea and runs with it in a long screed about how the Internet has broken the newspaper industry’s business model, a topic about which plenty of people including myself have written about ad nauseum. But Karp offers a detailed and particularly articulate discussion of this issue, writing that “Nobody has the right to a business model - Ask not what the market can do for you, but what you can do for the market.”
As usual with this sort of thing, the comments are as entertaining and thought-provoking as the blog post, and as a former journalist I can relate to the responses from people in the traditional media. The words of Thomas Jefferson, author of the American Declaration of Independence, still echo in my ears as one of the main reasons I got into the media business: “Given a choice between a government without newspapers and newspapers without government, I would not hesitate to choose the latter.” The media have an important role in informing society and keeping governments honest. But while Jefferson specifically mentioned newspapers, if he was here today I think he would understand and approve of the Internet and blogging. It is the same principle he was talking about back in the 18th century - free speech. Whether it’s Rupert Murdoch or Ariana Huffington or Joe Bloggs exercising that right doesn’t matter.
At the end of the day, say what we will, the market doesn’t care about ‘quality’ journalism and comprehensive local news coverage. We collectively need to find a model that works in this new and changing environment. I agree with Karp that a future business model lies in the power of networks, not the power of monopolies.
Interesting report from the ars technica website:
“A new study of older individuals has now looked at brain activity as subjects undertake Internet searches and it concludes that, for regular Internet users, far more of the brain gets engaged when searching than when reading.
“Like other studies that rely on fantastically expensive functional MRI equipment, this one had a small subject population: a dozen each of regular Internet users and Internet novices. The savvy users typically went online a minimum of once daily, while, on average, the novice group reported using the Internet either not at all or once a month. The average age of both groups was in the early to mid-60s.
“….Volume measurements suggest that nearly twice as much of the brain was engaged when the experienced users searched than when naive users did. The additional areas engaged included those thought to be involved in decision making and complex reasoning. The implications are that those familiar with Internet searches have learned to become mentally engaged in the process in a way that goes well beyond reading.
“….taken at face value, the results appear to suggest that frequent access to information on the Internet can create a higher mental engagement with the content.”
There has been a lot of debate in journalistic circles of late about the state of denial most journalists and media academics are in regarding new media.
A recent blog on Poynter.org recounted an exchange between digital media entrepreneur Elizabeth Overholser and journalism students at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School of Journalism. Osder refuted one student’s lament that online news business models aren’t working. Then she advised the students that to figure out which online business models can work, ”Start with the impact you want to have. Figure out what audience you need to assemble to have that impact. And what kind of content is needed to do that. Then price it out: How much money do you need to do it?”
According to Overholser, a J-student groaned in reply, “If I wanted to do that, I’d have gone to Marshall (USC’s business school).”
Osder countered that while that response was understandable, thinking through the business side of journalism “forces you to be relevant and useful versus arrogant and entitled.”
I say: hear, hear! Journalists need to get their head out of the sand and embrace the Internet, because, like it or not, it is changing the face of journalism. Being a good writer isn’t enough in the 21st century; you need to be able to write web copy, operate a blog, do your research and link out to your sources, even use a video camera.
Like others who have been writing on this topic, I blame the university programs, who are still churning out journalists who are too “good” to do anything other than report and write.
Much as it pains me to say this, as someone who grew up and started their career believing in the purity and hyperspecialisation of journalism, the Internet, new ways of communicating stories, and citizen journalism are all a fact of life today, and journalists who won’t admit this and who won’t widen their perspective and their activities will end up bitter and unemployed.
I have been reading the Copyblogger blog for a while, and it’s obvious why it’s rated as one of the top blogs for writers - it consistently offers practical, commercially-focused advice on how to the writing business. It often uses analogies from popular culture to get its points across, such as “What Fight Club can Teach You About Innovative Content” and, one of my personal favourites, “The Jim Morrison Guide to Strategic Content Promotion” (I am a complete Doors tragic).
Today’s entry is no exception: “Is Your Blog Ginger or Mary Ann?” Every male of a certain vintage can appreciate the iconic appeal of the two young females from Gilligan’s Island (let’s not talk about Mrs. Howell - shudder!). As Sonia Simone writes in this Copyblogger entry, Ginger represents the kind of woman men want to have an affair with, while Mary Ann symbolises the type of woman you want to marry. I never picked up the Jungian nuances of Gilligan’s Island when I was a lad, but today it’s obvious - but no less potent.
Anyway, what the hell does this have to do with digital content? As with other posts in this blog, Sonia does a good job of relating this to two types of successful blogs - the edge-pushing, paradigm-shifting, outrageous kind, and the practical, relevant kind.
As many of the commenters on this entry write, most people imagine themselves as a little bit of both (personally, I fancy myself as a bit more like The Green Hornet, but that’s another story). But one thing is for sure: I will be thinking about Ginger and Mary Ann the next time I post a blog entry - and that can’t be a bad thing!
Rebecca Lieb, writing on the ClickZ website, rightly observes that it’s high past time that the advertising and media industries fully embrace digital solutions. She writes, “It’s not just old-timers on the traditional agency side of the equation who are stubbornly resisting the shift to digital. It’s an issue across the media landscape. Their reluctance was perhaps somewhat understandable in the go-go ’90s and in the sober, austere, bleak era around 2002. But now?
“Still, I’m seeing traditional publishers cut back on digital endeavors (and digital staff) in a desperate and futile effort to sustain their flagging, dead-tree legacy brands. I’m seeing digital executives going to senior management with requests for back-end tools, such as content management systems and social media software, only to learn their corporate overlords have no idea what all that stuff is, much less what it’s actually used for or how it can benefit the business.
“And I’m seeing some of those print publications flatline. Friends who have been print journalists for decades are panicking in the face of cutbacks, early retirement, consolidation, and plain old extinction.
“But they’re not learning digital skills. A critic friend stays up nights over the fact his paper is due to shutter at month’s end. When I inquired about his online skills, he replied that even the most fundamental elements of a story, such as hyperlinks, were determined and executed by the online editor. He doesn’t know how to do any of that stuff.”
I’m happy to report that not everyone in the advertising and media industries in Australia over the age of 30 is a techno-Luddite. But a lot more needs to be done to encourage them to embrace digital formats and produce new ways of communicating ideas that capitalise on these new formats, rather than continuing to produce digital creations that are still rooted in traditional thinking.
Gen Y is not reading newspapers anymore. They’re watching TV without ads, via DVD or DVD recorders, They’re staying away from websites that throw pop-up ads at them. Those of us who grew up with traditional forms of communication are still in the majority - but we won’t be for that much longer. As Lieb says in the headline of her article, “Digital or die”.
As we say on the home page: “Markets are conversations”. Irish web content expert Gerry McGovern writes in his blog this week that, “Marketing used to say: ‘Don’t go down that road, go down this road. My destination is much more interesting.’ On the Web, we choose our destination and will not change it. Marketing must now say: ‘I can help you get to your destination faster and easier.’”
In the information-rich 21st century, McGovern says, the Internet succeeds because “it helps us make better decisions. We go to the Web to get more details. We go to the Web on a mission. When was the last time you went to Google and said, ‘I wonder what should I search for today?’ You go to the Web wanting to buy a lawnmower. The chances of your attention being caught by some clever ad for a vacation in Greece is very, very small. ”
“The Web is the land of the skeptic, the cynic, the impatient, time-starved, information-overloaded consumer who is on a mission. The mission is to solve a problem, answer a question, get a good deal. The Web is the land of the comparison shopper, the person who wants to read reviews to see if the product is actually any good.
“Trying to grab the attention and tug the sleeve of this information-rich consumer is much more likely to irritate than to interest them. Presenting them, on your homepage, with the big, smiling face of some actor who has never used your product, is a good way of getting them to sneer at you.”
I have found a new favourite technology writer - Robert X Cringely at Infoworld. His recent article “Is Sarah Palin more popular than porn? Search me“, is a hoot. He cites a new book by Hitwise general manager Bill Tancer, which shows that searching for social media is now more popular than searching for porn online. As Cringely (yes, that’s his real name, not a pseudonym) writes, “‘As social networking traffic has increased, visits to porn sites have decreased,’ said Tancer, [who] indicated that the 18-24 year old age group particularly was searching less for porn.
“I’m guessing Tancer has not visited many social networks, or that all his Facebook friends are old farts. Because when you’re age 18 to 24, social networks ARE pornography. In fact, they’re better. Have you seen some of those profiles? Two words: humena humena.”
I never knew how ‘humena humena’ was spelled before - you learn something new every day!
He goes on to write about something (or someone) else who has gone on to become more popular than porn on the Internet: Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin.
“Hitwise also measures the most popular searches for political terms. You can guess which lipstick-wearing pitbull of a hockey mom tops the charts there. Per the Washington Post: ‘… in her first two days in the national spotlight, US Internet searches on all things Palin outnumbered any other politician in the past three years…. In many cases, her name was searched alongside the word ‘hot.’ I’m guessing that also includes searches for Palin’s head photo-shopped onto various nude or bikini clad models.
“Does that qualify as porn? If so, I think Tancer needs to revisit his conclusions about social nets.”
A geek with a sharp sense of humour - got to love it.
From The HubSpot Internet Marketing blog:
“At the Inbound Marketing Summit last week, marketing guru David Meerman Scott encouraged business owners and marketing executives to ‘hire a journalist’. What was he talking about? More than 10,000 jobs have been cut this year at U.S. newspapers, and Scott sees the ‘dire situation for many reporters and editors as a tremendous opportunity for corporate marketing.’
“Why? Because journalists are trained to write, edit and, above all, tell stories in an even-handed way.
“‘Hiring people trained in journalism sounds like a good idea for marketers - they’ll be getting someone who’s more likely to be comfortable writing for a general audience, simplifying tricky concepts and telling stories,’ says Jon Fortt, a senior writer at Fortune.
“In the new world of inbound marketing, that’s what you need to do. You can’t interrupt potential customers with ‘marketing material’, you have to create rich, interesting content, that attracts people to your web site. You have to create content that’s useful to your customers, not gobbledygook about your product. Having somebody on your team who can do this will set you apart from the competition.”