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ScribbleLive: Four ways to make money from liveblogging

Liveblogging platform ScribbleLive claims to have come up with four different ways that news organisations can make money from liveblogging, a form of reporting described by Matt Wells, blogs editor of the Guardian, as “native to the internet” and an area he would “throw resources at the expense of writing another 300 word article”.

“It is interesting how incredibly sticky the liveblog audience is, particularly for true liveblogs that are updated minute by minute,” Mark Walker from ScribbleLive told Journalism.co.uk.

What is appealing to advertisers, Walker explained, is that “there is a significant audience that just stays on the page for half an hour or more”.

Here are four ideas put forward by ScribbleLive, which offers the technology to implement the various options within a standard licence to its liveblogging platform.

1. Rotating ads

Liveblogging should be “something you monetise more like television than print”, Walker told Journalism.co.uk, suggesting that sites trial rotating ads.

Walker would not divulge his clients’ names but said a number had been very successful in adopting this approach, using technology which allows ads to rotate at a rate of one per minute.

They are able to generate $16 page CPMs, so every time a page is displayed they are making about $16 per 1,000 [viewers], that’s simply because people are staying for a long time, some for half an hour or more.

He suggested that liveblogs provide web content at a relatively low cost.

There is no incremental cost to creating the content as the journalist will be at the trial, at the election, at the event.

2. Sponsored events

The most profitable way to monetise liveblogs is though sponsorship, according to Walker.

It is impossible to pre-sell sponsorship advertising for many breaking news stories such as an earthquake, Walker pointed out, but sponsorship for some major news stories can be pre-planned. The Royal Wedding was one example, severe weather is another – and perhaps the most interesting.

Walker said severe weather liveblogs in the US and Canada have pre-sold sponsorship where a company selling snow tyres, for example, becomes the brand that brings you the liveblog on the school closures, traffic delays and general disruption.

One thing you can tell an advertiser is when we have severe weather this is how we are going to cover it. We will put your brand all over it and we will own the eyeballs of the public who will be coming to our site, in some cases, for hours at a time.

Walker also suggested another example of potential for sponsorship is a liveblog on key financial updates, with the spending review springing to mind.

He also urged media organisations, particularly the more traditional print media, to consider monetising liveblogs covering reality television and sports.

3. Live advertorial

Here is one option that will be more appealing to advertising sales people than to journalists: the liveblog of an advertorial.

Walker, speaking from his base in Canada, suggested a company within the private medical care field would be an obvious (though more US than UK) potential advertiser, with a liveblog involving a discussion with doctors. He also put forward an idea holding a debate around new green technologies to promote an area of the solar energy business.

The conversation is being influenced by the advertisers and you can make it clear it is brought to you by the brand and that the liveblog is useful to readers.

4. Embedded liveblogs within ads

ScribbleLive has come up with a second liveblogging advertorial option, this time within an advert itself.

The conversation is distributed across the site but you can drive [your audience] to a page within the property or to a page on the sponsor’s site.

You can charge a premium as it is a very engaging type of ad. And the conversation might not be driven by the brand at all. You could say we are talking to a celebrity but it’s sponsored by a brand.

In considering all of the above options it is worth remembering which liveblogs get the most traffic.

The biggest events that ever go through the ScribbleLive network, the things that tend to skew it, are major national disasters and breaking news, but they are nowhere close as far as peaks in users as Apple events and Google events when we see spikes in many hundreds of thousands in matters of seconds. That really shows the value of liveblogs.

For more on liveblogging, including examples from the Guardian, the Manchester Evening News and a hyperlocal, see: How to: liveblog – lessons from news sites

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The Guardian’s Matt Wells on live blogging the Egypt protests, in Arabic

Followers of the Guardian’s Egypt protests live blog in the last few days may have noticed short passages of Arabic text appearing amid the blog’s customary roster of updates, summaries and other multimedia.

Then later an entire news article or two appearing on the site in the unfamiliar language.

I spoke to blogs editor Matt Wells about the decision to translate the Guardian’s coverage into Arabic.

It began a few days back when one of the newspaper’s journalists suggested embedding Google’s translate button, which automatically translates any webpage, into the live blog. With independent news organisations such as Al Jazeera harassed by the state and foreign journalists reportedly suffering obstruction and detention, impartial Arabic-language news is not necessarily readily available in Egypt.

“The news there is dominated by state-run media,” Wells said, “and unofficial sources are mostly in English or under-resourced.”

Online translation services, however, are generally not very accuarate, even if Google has come a long way since the early days of Yahoo’s BabelFish.

The Guardian asked a native Arabic speaker in the office to take a look, and she confirmed that it “wasn’t exactly 100 per cent accurate”.

Then the blogs team put it to the readers, asking, what do you think of the Google translate service? We’ve had our native Arabic speaker cast her eye over it and don’t think it’s accurate enough.

Proving that reader comments aren’t the trash they get slated as by some, one reader joined the dots that the staff hadn’t.

If you have a native Arabic speaker, why don’t you translate some of it yourself?, they asked.

And so the Guardian started publishing live blog summaries in Arabic, and will be translating two or three news articles a day with the help of a professional service, Wells said.

“Clearly we are not going to become an Arabic news service, but we saw it as a useful feature.

“It is more of a gesture to our readers to show that we are appreciative of our audience in that region and of the fantastic response we’ve had.”

Wells said that the Guardian’s commitment to community management was key to the live blogging strategy, especially with coverage like that of the Egypt protests. The paper has two dedicated community managers – Laura Oliver and James Walsh – who sit and work with the news teams but “have the specific brief of engaging with readers in the comments below the line and on Twitter.”

That means flagging up useful information posted by users, pulling material into the live blogs from elsewhere and responding to comments or letting reporters know when it might be best for them to do so. It is a role that the Guardian is serious about developing, Wells said.

“It results in a much more engaged and two-way conversation with the users.”

As for the live blogging, there is no doubt that the Guardian likes, and does a lot of it. With more than 250,000 hits a day for the Egypt live blog alone, Wells called it the “centrepiece” of the paper’s coverage.

“This time it really feels like we’ve pushed on the form again.”

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Jobs round-up: Mobile moves and digital appointments at Guardian and Telegraph

August 12th, 2010 | No Comments | Posted by in Jobs

It seems there’s a certain amount of musical chairs going on this summer in the digital departments of the UK’s news organisations.

paidContent:UK reports that Torsten de Riese, Guardian News & Media’s mobile business manager for the past seven months, is departing for a digital director role at CNBC.

Meanwhile, Telegraph Media Group head of mobile, Maani Safa, has left the publisher. According to NMA, Safa’s replacement is Mark Challinor.

The Guardian has also announced a series of moves amongst its multimedia and digital teams: in September head of audio Matt Wells will become blogs editor; while current news editor Stuart Millar will become web news editor, responsible for live and breaking news coverage on the website.

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#FollowJourn: @matthewwells/head of audio

October 13th, 2009 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Recommended journalists

#FollowJourn: Matt Wells

Who? Head of audio for the Guardian.

What? Former MediaGuardian editor, still presents its media podcast.

Where? On the Mediatalk podcast and contributions to Guardian.co.uk.

Contact? @matthewwells.

Just as we like to supply you with fresh and innovative tips every day, we’re recommending journalists to follow online too. They might be from any sector of the industry: please send suggestions (you can nominate yourself) to judith or laura [at] journalism.co.uk; or to @journalismnews.

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Audio additions at Guardian.co.uk – The Business / video features for football podcast

April 9th, 2009 | No Comments | Posted by in Multimedia, Online Journalism

More audio content is planned for Guardian.co.uk: this week saw the launch of The Business, a weekly finance and economics podcast. Next to follow will be regular video features off the back of the weekly football podcast, the Guardian’s head of audio, Matt Wells, told Journalism.co.uk.

Jeff Jarvis’ monthly Media Talk USA launched last week: “The idea was this: all the major developments in global media, from digital innovations like Google and YouTube, to the crisis in print journalism, started in the US before spreading here. It makes sense to chronicle those developments in the same fashion as we follow the UK media scene with Media Talk,” Matt Wells told Journalism.co.uk.

Media Talk has recently been nominated for best internet programme in the Sony radio awards, he added.

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Guardian seeks independent producer for football podcast

June 23rd, 2008 | No Comments | Posted by in Uncategorized

The Guardian is searching for a new independent producer for its Football Weekly podcast.

According to an announcement via the Radio Academy, the application process for producing Football Weekly and Football Weekly Extra for the 2008/9 season is now open.

“After two really successful seasons working with production companies that shared the Guardian.co.uk vision and helped establish the programmes as the UK’s leading football podcast brand, we’re looking to build on the great work already done. We want to increase the reach and profile of the shows, and continue to be the net’s number one destination for football podcasts,” said Matt Wells, the Guardian’s head of audio, in the statement.

In January Wells told an industry gathering that the podcast was downloaded 80-100,000 times a week.

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MediaGuardian Radio Reborn 2008: Guardian readies ads for podcasts

April 28th, 2008 | No Comments | Posted by in Advertising, Events

The Guardian will soon introduce ad spots to its podcasts in the next few weeks, the title’s head of audio told an industry conference today.

Matt Wells, who announced the plans in January, said a range of bluechip advertisers were interested in the spots, though he did not elaborate on which podcasts would be the first to feature the advertising.

The argument for introducing podcast ads had been significantly boosted by the success of the Guardian’s advertising within its video content, Wells added.

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MediaGuardian Radio Reborn 2008: What’s the future for Channel 4’s digital radio?

April 28th, 2008 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Events

The future of Channel 4‘s digital radio prospect was on the table at today’s Radio Reborn conference, prompting some cagey answers from Natalie Schwarz, chair of the 4 Digital group over their ongoing discussions with Ofcom.

In the clip below Matt Wells, head of audio at the Guardian, challenges Schwarz’s comments:

Speaking from the audience, Ofcom’s director of radio and multimedia Peter Davies did concede that Channel 4 had not asked for an extension to the launch date of Channel 4 Digital.

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Press Gazette: New Guardian morning news podcast to take on BBC

February 15th, 2008 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Editors' pick

Matt Wells, head of audio at the Guardian, says the new morning news podcast will offer listeners an alternative to the BBC, which currently dominates the breakfast market.

Last month Wells criticised the BBC’s own podcasts for attracting ‘unimpressive’ audience figures.

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The future of podcasting

January 16th, 2008 | No Comments | Posted by in Multimedia, Online Journalism

Last night’s Radio Academy event on the future of podcasting proved a lively affair with criticism from Matt Wells, head of audio at Guardian Unlimited, of the BBC’s podcasting strategy and debate over podcasting’s relationship with radio.

The latter produced the following exchange between Trevor Dann, director of the Radio Academy and first speaker in the clip, and Wells.

But as fellow panellist Nathalie Schwarz, director of radio at Channel 4, went on to point out: it doesn’t matter – the generation that are going be most in tune with podcasting won’t care what it’s called – adding weight to Wells’ suggestion that calling it radio is a hang-up of the traditional media.

Schwarz also levelled Wells’ views on the BBC’s podcast service: how you define success in podcasting, she suggested, should be related to what you are trying to achieve.

“The brave new world isn’t just about big numbers and mass reach – I think that’s the old style world of looking at RAJAR as a almost a trading currency to get commercial revenue.”

The entire evening’s discussion can be listened to courtesy of the Radio Academy’s website.

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