BBC reports ‘new record’ for mobile during US election coverage

The BBC has reported a “record” number of mobile devices being used to access its web content in a day with “nearly 5 million” devices visiting BBC News Online on Wednesday (7 November), as results of the US election continued to be announced.

The broadcaster began measuring access via mobile devices at the beginning of the year. The record of almost 5 million beats a previous record from the week before of 4 million, recorded during Hurricane Sandy.

In a blog post BBC News website editor Steve Herrmann said the broadcaster’s election coverage also “brought the highest traffic to BBC News Online so far this year”.

On Wednesday (7 November) the news website recorded 16.4 million unique browsers.

Herrmann said this “makes it the highest traffic day of 2012 so far and rivals our two biggest previous days during the August riots and the March Tsunami, in 2011. During the England riots, on 9 August 2011 there were there were 18.2 million unique browsers”.

This comes just weeks after BBC News started to roll out as default its new responsive site on mobile phones to improve the experience for its growing mobile audience.

Tool of the week for journalists: Taggstar, for adding links to your pictures

Tool of the week: Taggstar

What is it? A tool to add links so when readers hover over a photo they see links to video, audio, text, maps, retailers and more.

How is it of use to journalists? Taggstar launched last month as a free tool to allow journalists and news sites add links to other content from photos.

It is similar to ThingLink (a previous tool of the week for journalists), but, according to TechCrunch, Taggstar is focusing much of its attention on e-commerce opportunities and making images ‘shoppable’ so that readers can find links to buy a product or service.

For example, see how MSN is using Taggstar to show where readers can buy dresses, shoes and a necklace similar to those worn by Kate Middleton.

The TechCrunch post explains how this works:

Not only can publishers make their image galleries ‘shoppable’, but Taggstar’s image search technology claims to be able to interrogate hundreds of thousands of product images from its network of over 200 retailers, and display the best results based on colour, pattern and style. It does this by relying on the tags that publishers add to their images when using Taggstar’s platform and by taking a visual swatch of the product being tagged. It then crawls through the XML feeds of retailers who have signed up to work with Taggstar and automatically delivers results by analysing those product images, as well as the related textual data.

Publishers can add a revenue stream by using Taggstar, and, according to the Taggstar FAQs, there are “more monetisation features in the pipeline”.

Publishers can also link to video, audio and other rich media sources. To test it out we added links to a photo of the Newsstand iPad app, linking to iTunes.

Before tagging an image you will need to add some code to your site or blog or download a WordPress plugin. We tested it out using Tumblr. Taggstar explains exactly what you need to do.

When logged into Taggstar you then right click any image on your site to easily add links.

#AOPsummit: How ZDNet approaches mobile reporting with a responsive design CMS

Business technology news website ZDNet not only has a responsive site which adapts to the size of the screen it is viewed on, but has a responsively designed CMS, which scales to fit the screen size with the aim of making it easy for journalists to file stories from a smartphone or tablet.

The responsive CMS, which was developed internally, was introduced in July, Laura Jenner, product manager for CBS Interactive UK, which publishes ZDNet, said at today’s AOP Digital Publishing Summit.

In the session, which focussed on user experience and responsive (or adaptive) design, Jenner argued the case for responsive design, saying it is is “much better for user interaction” than an ‘m.’ mobile site.

And ease of using the site to download a white paper, for example, is key.

Loyal users are key to building audience as they always have been.

There are also business benefits of adaptive design, Jenner said, explaining that both users and search engines prefer using a responsively-designed site.

“Adaptive design is Google’s recommended option,” Jenner added.

And mobile means “you also have access to readers at times you didn’t previously”, she explained. “In the past you would have to wait until 9am on a Monday until people returned to their desks.”

Responsive design may also reduce the need for native apps and therefore reduce overheads, she added.

Asked how to convince advertisers of the advantages, Jenner said:

We are not forcing users onto another platform, they are already there. And we are providing a much better environment for advertising campaigns.

Asked whether journalists need to adapt articles or headlines to fit mobile reading, Jenner said “we don’t tell [journalists] to write a headline that fits on mobile”, adding that she believes people don’t want a shorter version of the story on mobile but want the full article.

In discussing development costs, she explained that responsive design is probably no cheaper as a one-off cost than developing native apps, but that the option is “far easier to iterate” and develop over time.

#AOPsummit: ‘Big launch’ in responsive design next week for BBC News

BBC News will see a “big launch” in its move to responsive web design next week when readers accessing the site on a mobile will be redirected to the responsive version of the site rather than the desktop version.

Chris Russell, head of product for BBC News online, talked through the shift to responsive design at today’s AOP Digital Publishing Summit.

Responsive sites automatically scale to fit the screen size they are viewed on and have been adopted by news outlets including Channel 4 News and ITN, plus smaller outlets including student-run site Redbrick.

The BBC News site has been in development for some time with “location and weather modules” recently introduced and video added within the past two weeks, Russell explained.

He illustrated the importance of making the news site a good user experience on a smartphone by explaining that around 10 to 20 per cent of BBC News traffic currently comes from mobile.

He added that BBC News “still wants to be in app stores” so does not see responsive design in replacing native apps entirely.

Asked whether headlines and other content needs to be written with mobile in mind, he explained that BBC News has been doing that for many years, altering headline lengths for Ceefax pages, for example.

Tool of the week for journalists: Story Wheel, for easy audio slideshows

Tool of the week: Story Wheel

What is it? An easy audio slideshow tool using Instagram and SoundCloud

How is it of use to journalists? If you are a journalist who regularly uses Instagram to share photos, here is a tool that will allow you turn the images into a story.

Go to the Story Wheel site, connect your Instagram account, click the pictures you want to use and then record audio, hitting the space bar every time you want the picture to change to the next in your selection.

An audio slideshow takes just minutes to make and is a quicker option than using tools such as Soundslides.

Although you can’t embed the audio slideshow, it does offer journalists a great way of telling a story around their images and sharing via social media.

You can see examples of Instagram audio slideshows on the Story Wheel site.

According to the Story Wheel site, the tool come out of a hack day. It was built using the SoundCloud api for the audio part and is now part of SoundCloud Labs.

#PPAdigital: Paul Bradshaw’s five principles of data management

At today’s PPA Digital Publishing Conference, Paul Bradshaw, publisher of the Online Journalism Blog, visiting professor at City University, London, and course leader for the MA in Online Journalism at Birmingham City University, talked about data both in terms of data journalism and data analytics.

He set out five principles of data management.

1. Data is only as good as the person asking questions

Bradshaw said that whether the data is from analytics and used for commercial purposes, or whether it’s editorial data and you are doing an investigation, “the key thing is to have questions to ask” of the data.

That should drive everything, rather than you being led by the data.

2. Data can save time and money

Bradshaw is frequently told that data journalism is resource-intensive or a publishing company does not feel it has resources “to do data stuff”.

But he argues that data saves time, does not have to cost money or rely on having a team of developers.

He explained that people he has trained find they learn computer techniques to do things that they previously did manually.

They might scrape websites very neatly into a spreadsheet, they may pull data from an analytics package into spreadsheet, they might visualise that dynamically – and that all saves time.

You might prepare for a big event by having spreadsheets set up or feeds set up or triggers.

3. Data is about people

There can be a danger of becoming “bogged down in the data”, Bradshaw warned. “But really stories are told about people and to people.”

He advises taking “a step back from that data” to find “the people that it is telling a story about”.

He said that in the case of data journalism, that is about finding case studies; in the case of analytics you can use the data to create profiles or pictures of the people who are using your site.

4. Good data is social, sticky and useful

“If data is going to be useful it needs to have a point, people need to be able to do something with it,” Bradshaw said.

People may share it socially, he explained. And it becomes “sticky” if it allows people to spend time exploring it.

5. You can be driven by the data or driven by the story

“Sometimes you are getting data passively and you are looking for stories in it, sometimes you are seeking out data because of the story or lead or question you have,” Bradshaw explained. And that comes back to his first point. “It’s really important to have questions” rather than to be “passively driven by the data”.

And Bradshaw demonstrated how his principles make “a lot more sense” when you replace the word ‘data’ with ‘journalism’.

  • Journalism is only as good as the person asking questions
  • Journalism can save time and money
  • Journalism is about people
  • Good journalism is social, sticky and useful
  • You can be driven in journalism by the source or driven by the story

Listen below to hear audio of Paul Bradshaw setting out his five principles of data management:

Paul Bradshaw leads data journalism courses for Journalism.co.uk. The next course is on 5 December. There are details at this link.

 

Release: Charity publishes guide for journalists reporting on diabetes

Diabetes UK has released a new guide aimed at helping journalists in their reporting on diabetes.

According to a release, as well as offering information on diabetes, the guide “also looks at the role journalists can play in challenging misconceptions around the condition” and offers some reporting tips.

Download the guide at this link.

#PPAdigital: Lean back, lean forward at The Economist

The Economist divides its digital products into those that involve two reading behaviours: “lean-back 2.0”, which is the print-like digital experience of tablets, and “lean-forward 2.0”, a website experience.

At today’s PPA Digital Publishing Conference, Neelay Patel, vice president, commercial strategy, The Economist, said the title therefore offers three product types: lean-back in print, lean-forward on the web, and lean-back in digital.

And the new platforms are expanding the reach of the 160-year-old title, Patel explained.

Our potential audience is now much broader with digital.

Lean back

“Lean-back 2.0” is an “immersive, reflexive, browsable, ritualistic, finishable” experience, Patel explained.

Lean-back readers like long-form journalism. “42 per cent of tablet news readers regularly read in-depth articles,” Patel said, based on a study the title did with the Pew Research Center. “And another 40 per cent sometimes do this.”

The Economist has taken this research and used the information when thinking about its “lean-back 2.0” strategy.

And digital solves distribution problems. Patel explained that with print it could take six days, until the Wednesday after being published on a Thursday, to get an edition to Latin America or Australia. “With digital it’s instant.”

Lean forward

“Lean-forward 2.0” is about the web experience. The online readership is very social, with articles spread via social media. In response to a question from a conference delegate, Patel said that social is one factor that helps The Economist address a potential hurdle – that those unfamiliar with the content think it is all about economics.

The discoverability of the content on the web (or lean-forward 2.0) and the social elements helps market the content. By coming across articles online “you then find out that it’s about far more than economics”, Patel explained.

Spreading the word

So The Economist aims to introduce its content to audiences that “do not know our brand” and has to get the marketing message across to jump the hurdle of the name ‘The Economist’, Patel said.

One of its challenges is to get that and other marketing messages in the “tiny little squares” offered by banners, buttons and icons of digital, Patel added.

In closing he said:

We’ve been very successful in print – and now we are successful in digital. But we must continually challenge ourselves.

 

#PPAdigital: 27% of Wired UK subscribers have downloaded iPad app

Conde Nast has sold nearly 500,000 apps of Wired UK, GQ and Vanity Fair combined, Rupert Turnbull, publisher of Wired UK told today’s PPA Digital Publishing Conference.

At first numbers were modest but as tablets have grown in popularity, app sales have increased, he explained.

The publisher has sold 474,825 tablet editions of Wired UK, GQ and Vanity Fair. The number of downloads by print subscribers who read the app is not included in that figure. Turnbull said that 27 per cent of print subscribers have downloaded an iPad app edition, which is bundled into the print subscription.

Turnbull said he expected the magazine not to work on a smartphone, adding that he thought “there’s no way” they could publish a “full magazine on a three-inch screen”.

“But consumers are much more savvy than that,” he said. “They read it, but read it differently.”

Research shows most users of the Wired UK iPad read in linear form.

He also revealed some good news for advertising. When asked “are you more likely to skip past ads on the iPad edition?” 82 per cent of Wired app users disagreed.

He also said that 59 per cent of Wired UK’s app users agreed that ads with good interactive content are just as enjoyable as editorial.

#PPAdigital: Emap parent company Top Right aims to recruit 100 graduates a year

The chief executive of business-to-business publisher and events business Top Right Group, which was created in March after Emap split into three separate, autonomous divisions, said today that the company is re-focussing on its core business and investing in staff.

The B2B publishing division retained the Emap name after the split, with the events division re-branded as i2i and the data business becoming 4C.

Duncan Painter, who joined from BSkyB almost a year ago, told today’s PPA Digital Publishing Conference that the company aims to recruit 100 graduates a year to bring in new talent. The firm is also re-investing in training.

“Emap was at its greatest when it had lots of small, focused businesses,” he said, explaining that the company is again focussing on its core business.

When asked about the possibility of Top Right buying other businesses, Painter said he is not ruling out acquisitions, but favours launches.

He said the company aims to launch “three times as many products next year as this year.”