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Advertising Age: Calls for Facebook privacy regulation could hit publishers

A US senator has written to the country’s Federal Trade Commission asking for the development of guidelines for how individual’s information on Facebook can be used.

The letter from Senator Charles Schumer follows Facebook’s launch of its Open Social Graph Platform – a series of new tools and functionality for the social network, including deeper links with third-party sites. The network’s new “like” feature, for example, has already been put into use by numerous news sites, including the Washington Post.

The flap couldn’t come at a worse time for online advertising, facing the very real prospect that it will be regulated in the form of privacy legislation that would require publishers, networks or marketers to receive specific consent to use consumer data for a variety of purposes on the web.

(…) Of course, Facebook needs to default to openness because that’s where the service derives its viral nature. The more that is shared, the faster the Facebook web grows.

Full story at this link…

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FT.com: WPP develops technology to police web ad placements

March 18th, 2010 | No Comments | Posted by in Advertising, Editors' pick

GroupM Interaction, the media agency of WPP, is hoping to overcome the problem of misplaced ads online with a new monitoring technology. Advertising networks which place aggregate banned adverts for clients across a range of sites may create clashes between the ad and editorial content placed elsewhere on the site – an oil company’s ad next to a news story on climate change, for example, the FT reports.

GroupM Interaction (…) is hoping to prevent such incidents by using “ad verification” technology, which reports back on which sites client messages are being shown, and in some cases even prevents them from appearing if the site is considered unsuitable.

Full story at this link…

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Editor&Publisher: Should newspapers forget paywalls and focus on online ads?

September 25th, 2009 | No Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Online Journalism

A lengthy report from US-based Editor&Publisher looks at news payment models and whether it would be more sensible to focus on online advertising.

It opens with a quote from Ken Doctor, affiliate analyst at Outsell Research and author of the blog Content Bridge:

“The industry needs to turn its attention back to advertising. It has long been what has sustained the American press, and it’s an important revenue source going forward.

“With online revenue flagging as much as it has, attention has been turned and diverted. If advertisers aren’t going to save us online, maybe the readers will save us online. Even if [paid content] worked, it adds only a small revenue stream.”

Full story at this link…

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SimsBlog: ‘Top 10 lies newspaper execs are telling themselves’

September 2nd, 2009 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Editors' pick, Newspapers

Judy Sims, once vice president, digital media for the Toronto Star Media Group, offers up a list of lies newspaper executives might tell themselves to deflect from the reality of the crises faced by their industry:

1. “We can manage this disruption from within an integrated organisation”

2. “Print advertising reps can sell online advertising too”

3. “Aggregators are killing my business”

4. “We can recreate scarcity by putting up pay walls”

5.  “Our readers paid for news in the past, they will again”

6. “There will never be enough online revenue to support our newsroom’

7. “No one will ever cover crime/health/city hall the way we do”

8. “Our readers can’t be trusted/they are idiots/they are assholes”

9.  “Democracy will collapse without us”

10.  “I can compete with the best digital leaders/thinkers/creators in the world without becoming an active member of the online community”

Sims gives her own take on the thinking behind the ‘lies’ and why she thinks they’re false – agree or disagree?

Full list at this link…

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Future: Digital ads going from strength-to-strength

July 30th, 2009 | No Comments | Posted by in Advertising, Magazines

Specialist magazine publisher Future has reported a resilient and ‘healthy balance sheet’ in the face of recession with a 15 per cent increase in online advertising revenue in the nine months to June 30.

The company released an interim management statement today, which suggested that although print advertising revenues were down 8 per cent, this was offset by the growth in online advertising – resulting in a total fall of only 4 per cent.

Online ads represented 22 per cent, nearly a quarter, of total advertising revenue – up 19 per cent year-on-year – over the same period.

In the company’s interim report, CEO Stevie Spring said: “While it is premature to talk about a market recovery, there has been no deterioration in trading conditions since the half year.”

A third of the group’s revenue comes from its US operation and it capitalised on a favourable US exchange rate against the sterling with a 24 per cent stronger US dollar in the reported period.

As a result, the publisher had come out relatively unscathed through what it called ‘exceptionally challenging market conditions’, with an overall revenue decline of just 2 per cent, or 9 per cent calculated on a constant currency basis.

Publishing revenues

In the UK, which generates the remaining two thirds of the company’s income, publishing revenue, based on constant currency, was down 6 per cent. The fall in revenue was mainly due to a decline in PC gaming, personal computing and automotive titles, the report suggested.

In the same period, publishing revenues for the US operation fell 13 per cent, on a constant currency basis. The publisher blamed ‘greater exposure to generic advertising market volatility’ in the territory, particularly with regard to its digital business.

Future’s future

Future produces more than 80 newsstand magazines, 62 websites and 25 annual live events on special-interest topics, such as computer games, film, music and sport.

Spring, who according to paidContent:UK, ‘never talks down the health of the magazine industry’, was bullish about the future of the publisher:

“I am confident that when recovery comes, Future is well-positioned to benefit. We’ve continued to invest in both new products and new people and, more broadly, our strategy remains firmly on track. We are in the best shape we can be in for the mid-term,” he said.

Future’s annual results for the year to end of September will be announced on November 26.

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Jon Bernstein: What if the business model for news ain’t broke?

July 8th, 2009 | 16 Comments | Posted by in Comment, Online Journalism

In what may feel like a twist of logic too far, there are a growing number of non-media companies who are adopting the Fourth Estate’s digital business model.

That’s the ad-funded, free-to-the-consumer model.

You know the one.

It’s at the root of the crisis afflicting the newspaper industry around the world, an industry which is trying desperately to make money online. Or at least not haemorrhage it.

To believe the unholy trinity that is News International, Daily Mail and General Trust, and the Guardian Media Group, the media model is unworkable, unsustainable and it’s got to go.

The three are not sure if it should be replaced by paywalls, micropayments, subscriptions or something else entirely.

But what they are agreed on is that it cannot be business as usual. Because that business is going under.

So why do we find the likes of Facebook, Digg and the mighty Google – and perhaps soon Amazon- adopting the ad-funded model to support services and software.

Take Gmail. It’s not a media entity, it’s email, but it is ad-supported.

One answer is that that advertising is the last, desperate (and largely) failing attempt to generate some money, given nobody wants to pay for their products. In short: free reigns.

On that latter point, Wired’s editor-in-chief Chris Anderson is likely to agree.

His new book ‘Free: The Future of a Radical Price’ – appropriately available to read and listen to online without charge – celebrates ‘freeconomics’, but has a much more positive take on its effect on the business world.

The reason, he says, people are convinced that ad-funded won’t work is because they are applying the conventional rules.

Offline – in newspapers, magazines, billboards, TV and radio – advertising is predicated on scarcity not abundance. Ad sales people trade on ‘space’ and the less there is the higher the yield.

So when there is infinite space online, their greatest selling tool disappears.

Right? Wrong.

Anderson argues that there is another kind of advertising which is epitomised by Google’s text ads:

“Google doesn’t sell space. It sells users’ intentions – what they’ve declared to be interested in, in the form of a search query.

“And that’s a scarce resource. The number of people typing in ‘Berkeley dry cleaner’ on any given day is finite.”

Google’s CEO Eric Schmidt – admittedly a man with a vested interest – estimates that the potential market for online advertising is $800bn.

“That’s twice the total advertising market, online and off, today,” notes Anderson.

So why is his tone at such odds with that of the media he is writing about?

Perhaps it has something to do with the production-cycle of book publishing. This book was in train before he had even finished writing the much-admired The Long Tail.

Clearly much of his thinking predates the collapse of Lehman Brothers which sealed our current economic fate.

His penultimate chapter, presumably added very late in the day and titled ‘Coda: Free in a Time of Economic Crisis’, is an acknowlegement of that, although not a denunciation of his core argument.

Just maybe, it’s the down-in-the-mouth media owners who are out of time, not Anderson.

Maybe this rush to find other ways to monetise will be a passing phase and when the economy picks up so too will online advertising revenues.

After all, what’s the alternative?

Pay walls may work for niche information but not for mainstream news and exclusives. That’s something that even the Wall Street Journal, poster child of the paid model, accepts.

Interviewed earlier this year its executive editor Alan Murray said:

“Look, if it’s a big news story, if we report a takeover and – we could hold that behind the pay wall. But if we do, BusinessWeek or someone else will simply write a story saying ‘The Wall Street Journal is reporting x’ and they’ll get all the traffic. Why would we do that?

“So if it’s that kind of a big, broad-interest news story, we’ll put it outside the pay wall and go ahead and take the traffic ourselves, thank you very much.”

Jon Bernstein is former multimedia editor of Channel 4 News. This is part of a series of regular columns for Journalism.co.uk. You can read his personal blog at this link.

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RWW on AdSense and Hitwise on Twitter and retailers

June 26th, 2009 | No Comments | Posted by in Advertising

A double ed’s pick here with some thoughts on online advertising and e-commerce: first figures from Hitwise suggesting that Twitter is driving traffic towards media sites, but not retailers.

“[W]ith one or two exceptions (most notably Dell, which claims to generated $3m via Twitter), very few transactional websites have yet used Twitter to drive sales. During May, Google UK sent 365 times more traffic to transactional websites than Twitter. Given that Twitter has yet to settle on a business model that will take advantage of its huge, loyal user base, this is an issue that needs to be addressed by the people that run the company if they are to make the service a financial as well as popular success,” writes Hitwise’s Robin Goad.

Emerging platform, but no guaranteed financial model (yet) – which leads to a piece from Read Write Web last week on the decline of Google’s AdSense.

The service gained success because it met the needs of publishers, advertisers and users, but now each of these parties is starting to spot problems, writes RWW’s Bernard Lunn.

But, adds Lunn:

“If AdSense is in decline, that leaves open a big market for entrepreneurs. Publishing is not a winner-take-all market. Google will not control all online inventory. Advertisers and their agencies like choice. And users click on whatever is relevant.”

Full .

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Instyle.co.uk gets a makeover with new ad formats

May 28th, 2009 | No Comments | Posted by in Advertising, Magazines

IPC Media’s InStyle has revamped its website with a new black background, bigger images and new advertising formats, including a larger size MPUs – an Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) first, according to a press release.

Instyle.co.uk

The main features of the new design are:

  • Easier navigation
  • Enlarged fashion section
  • A list containing all featured celebrities and designers with access to photo galleries
  • New hair and news channel
  • Video beauty guidance
  • Microsites linking to a fashion events calendar
  • Online shop
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FT.com: Online consumers will accept ads for free content, says survey

April 6th, 2009 | No Comments | Posted by in Advertising, Editors' pick

Study by KPMG suggests UK consumers will watch online or mobile advertising if they are given free content in return.

Full story at this link…

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Google Ads round-up – the changes explained in links

The latest is from MediaGuardian: ‘Google to host ads from European agencies (March 17)': “Google is ramping up its efforts to make money from its controversial Google News service by striking deals with eight European news agencies, and launching a contextual ad service to display adverts around their stories.”

Here’s a round-up of the recent coverage of advertising on Google News and other parts of Google, and its impact for journalism. Please do add any good links you’ve spotted in the comments below, or Tweet us via @journalismnews and we’ll include them in the list.

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