Tag Archives: TechCrunch

How social referral traffic stats get Twitter figures wrong

A post on TechCrunch suggests tools such as Google Analytics do not give a true picture of the traffic drivers to your news site.

This post by Jonathan Strauss argues Twitter drives perhaps four times as much traffic to sites than Google Analytics suggests.

It demonstrates how Twitter traffic may be categorised separately by Google, such as when it originates from the tweet button and when it is via Twitter.com.

The article goes further and explains that Twitter may act like a TV ad to provide the drip, drip effect of product (or news story) awareness.

This happens with other marketing campaigns, too. Often you hear a radio ad, see a TV ad or read an article in a magazine and you type the results into Google to find out more details about the product or service. The problem is that marketers assume that Google drove the traffic. They did not. So you ramp down your TV or print campaigns and suddenly your search volume goes down.

The post also questions whether LinkedIn should be seen as such an important traffic driver after this post on TechCrunch reported LinkedIn drives more traffic to its site than Twitter.

Many tweets are now being sent to LinkedIn and then the publisher assumes that the source of the referral is LinkedIn. In some ways it is because that’s where your user engaged the content. But get rid of the tweet and you get rid of the referral traffic in the same way as I described the loss when you cancel your TV commercial.

So when I see MG Siegler announce that LinkedIn is sending more traffic to TechCrunch than Twitter – I’m not so sure. I understand why he would think that – Google Analytics tells him so. But I’ll bet a hefty amount of LinkedIn clicks were originated on Twitter. And I’ll bet a whole lot of TechCrunch “direct” traffic is from Twitter.

LinkedIn may be powered by Twitter and that should be recognised. LinkedIn Today should not be discredited so easily, however. Success for a site with LinkedIn Today depends on it striking a deal with the business development team at LinkedIn and becoming one of its preferred industry sites.

Getting your news on LinkedIn’s aggregated news site which launched in March makes a notable difference. BBC News is one of the sites on LinkedIn Today and has seen a tenfold rise in traffic in the last six months, rising from around 20,000 referrals in January to more than 200,000 referrals from LinkedIn in June.

In order to get a clear picture of your social referrals, the article on TechCrunch states you need a unique URL for each share behaviour.

So if you click on a ‘tweet this’ button on a website to send an article to your friends, that link needs to be individual to you and to that exact share instance. By making the URL link unique to its point of generation you can then track it better as it spreads to other sites.

And importantly when anybody else then shares the link to this site it maps out a “parent/child” link relationship. So if the original tweet was on Twitter and then somebody builds a ‘tweet this’ from a product like LinkedIn, you can still tell that the original source of the the story was Twitter. Call it, “last mile social media attribution” and when you’re a brand spending money on products and marketing you need to know this.

Many sites understand the exact value that reader brings. And if, say, a referral from Facebook or Twitter results in less time on the site and fewer page views than a reader coming via Google, they are less valuable to you if you make your money through advertising.

At a recent conference organised by ABC, Ashley Friedlein, CEO and founder of Econsultancy explained how his firm has given a monetary value to each reader coming via Twitter, Facebook, email referral, direct mail, etc. A referral from Twitter for consultancy is worth 11 pence, a reader coming from an email is worth 58 pence, and direct mail brings a higher value to the company, Friedlein explained.

It is clear that much depends on having very accurate analytics. The TechCrunch article suggests awe.sm, another option is Twenty Feet.

But it’s worth remembering that “the story is never quite as simple as the data might lead you to believe”, as Strauss said in the TechCrunch post.

Why news sites should consider adding the LinkedIn share button

TechCrunch has revealed LinkedIn is now sending the site more referral traffic than Twitter.

Much of the traffic appears to be down to referrals from LinkedIn Today, a collection of articles shared by your connections – including via Twitter – but a quick look at the number of clicks a LinkedIn share button is acquiring suggests it is well worth adding.

TechCrunch’s post goes on to reveal this amazing fact:

The biggest stat of all is that a year ago, traffic coming from LinkedIn was 1/50th what it is today on a monthly basis.

So what changed? As far as we can tell, this is all about LinkedIn Today, the social news product the service launched back in March. It was around that time that was saw the first big bump in terms of traffic coming from LinkedIn. In March, it roughly doubled from February. Then April was pretty flat — it was still much higher than previously, but not growing. Then in May, traffic went up 5x. And in June, it more than doubled from that. The growth has been astounding.

Of course what’s perhaps most interesting about that is that LinkedIn Today is powered by Twitter. Twitter shared links determine what shows up on LinkedIn Today, but the traffic does not go back through Twitter.

Even more surprising is that the biggest traffic driver to TechCrunch is Facebook.

The truth is that if this were October of last year, you would have been right in thinking that Twitter was our top referrer in terms of social websites. But since that time, Facebook has far surpassed Twitter in terms of traffic coming our way each month. In fact, Facebook.com is now sends nearly double the traffic that Twitter.com does. This is probably due to the fact that last November, we added Elin, our excellent community manager, who curates and engages with people from our feed on Facebook. I also suspect it has to do with the rise of the like button. Ever since it was released last year, Facebook has been steadily referring more readers our way.

Speaking on today’s Journalism.co.uk #jpod on how journalists can best use Facebook pages Jack Riley, head of digital audience and content development at the Independent, explains how the Independent has seen an impressive growth in traffic to its news site via Facebook and how social referrals have overtaken traffic generated by search.

Riley states:

Just as we saw with the Google wave of the digital media revolution when everyone optimised their sites for search and SEO became a huge industry in its own right, now everyone is having to optimise their sites for social.

In the podcast Riley explains that this means adding open graph tags to articles so they are optimised for Facebook sharing.

But if your next step in social is adding LinkedIn share, here is how to add the button by copying and pasting a simple line of code.

TechCrunch’s post on its social traffic is well worth reading and is at this link.

Location-based iPhone app Meporter building up reporting base

Meporter is a location-based iPhone app for reporting local news by sharing geolocated text, photos and videos.

It is just three weeks old and this week is launching a social media and advertising campaign to gather the critical mass of reporters – or Meporters, as they are known – needed to make the start-up a success.

Meporter was launched at TechCrunch‘s Disrupt 2011, a technology competition in New York, after being chosen as one of the 26 companies, out of 1,000 applicants, to be showcased.

Since then Meporter has set up in several countries, including the UK, China, Australia, Japan, Spain, Italy as well as the US, according to CEO and founder Andy Leff.

The kind of stories being reported are not just breaking news events but restaurant, theatre, festival and art reviews.

A quick check for Meporter reports for London reveal “fat lady gets arrested” in Hackney, “roadworks” in Lewisham and “sun shining in Wanstead”.

It is obvious what is needed now is an increase in the number news stories filed, plus if it is used for news gathering, journalists need to know how to verify reports coming in.

When he spoke to Journalism.co.uk Leff said he had not checked Meporter iPhone app downloads for a few days but said the number was “in the tens of thousands”.

So, how can it be used by journalists? So-called citizen journalists can report news and if enough local reporters sign up in an area, it can be used as a news gathering tool as Leff explained:

We’re actually in discussion with number of local publishers, regional publishers, national publishers and international publishers about incorporating Meporter into the news-gathering programmes.

We’ve got interest from a lot of newspapers here in the US, television broadcast companies and we have been contacted by some media publications in Germany to see how they can integrate Meporter.

What they’re saying is that they don’t have the resources or the manpower to get all the news in their local areas but they’re always having people ringing them on the phone saying “nobody’s covering the high school football game”.

News outlets are losing readers because they can’t cover everything.

That will no doubt resonate with local news organisations in the UK and the idea that they can crowdsource local news, including photos and videos, vet the incoming stories, verify them and publish is likely to be appealing.

But for this to work it will require huge take-up and the addition of an Android app, which, along with a BlackBerry app, is due to be launched soon.

Leff is now focussing on spending money to gain that critical mass.

The initial $300,000 cost of launch he gathered by “scrounging through my wallet, couch cushions, begging family and friends” and is now in further talks with investors.

A social media and advertising campaign called the Million Man Launch will see cash give-aways of $27,000 with thousands of dollars being rewarded when milestones of active users are reached.

Meporters are also being incentivised through a badge system, similar to that used by Foursquare, with users able to trade in badges for prizes gathered through sponsorship deals.

The start-up has a long way to go. According to the geolocated app there are just three Meporters in Brighton and between 20 and 30 in London. However, this is an increase from no Meporters in either city a fortnight ago.

Meporter has the potential to reopen a debate on citizen journalism. But what Meporter offers is not that far removed from how local newspapers have always used village reporters to crowdsource and gather local stories. What has changed is the reporting method and thus the demographic of the reporters.

Andy Leff CEO of Meporter, a location-based iPhone app for reporting news by journalismnews

TechCrunch: YouTube launches creative commons licence option

It is being widely reported that YouTube has now launched the ability for users to choose how they licence their content through its video editor platform.

The new Creative Commons option will give other people permission to use footage, including for commercial purposes, with attribution, according to TechCrunch.

It is also reported that initially YouTube is working with content partners including C-SPAN and Al Jazeera to offer a starting batch of 10,000 videos under the creative commons license. Al Jazeera already makes some of its content available under a creative commons licence, shown in this repository. TechCrunch reports that it will not take long for YouTube’s 10,000 video store to grow.

That library will rapidly increase as more people switch their content over to Creative Commons, and there’s even a tool that will let you swap the license for a bunch of videos at once.

A request for more information from YouTube has not yet been answered, but details of YouTube’s creative commons policy can be found here.

TechCrunch: Google Realtime Search adds Facebook

Journalists can now search for keywords and get second-by-second updates on topics of interest from a wider range of sources. TechCrunch is reporting that Google Realtime Search, which allows real-time updates from social media sites including Twitter, has added results from Quora, Buzz, Gowalla and Facebook.

The really interesting addition is Facebook. Before you get too excited, it appears that only Facebook Pages data is surfaced. So it’s not actually personal profile data. And obviously all of this Pages data is public, which is how Google is getting it. But previously, Google has distanced themselves from crawling the content of their big rival, even when it is available.

Our Google Realtime Search for “royal wedding”, pictured below, revealed only tweets.

Royal wedding search

However, site search of Facebook for Journalism.co.uk’s event news:rewired did yield a result.

Google Facebook news:rewired search

See the full post on TechCrunch at this link.

EU taking the biscuit? UK responds to new cookie legislation

Since the warning from the Information Commissioner this week that websites in the UK need to ‘wake up’ to new EU legislation on accessing information on user’s computers, many questions have been raised, but when they will be answered remains unclear.

Under the new legislation, which will come into force in May this year in an amendment to the EU’s Privacy and Electronic Communications Directive, websites will be required to obtain consent from visitors in order to store on and retrieve usage information from their computers such as cookies, which enable sites to remember users’ preferences.

The Internet Advertising Bureau responded to Christopher Graham’s announcement with its concerns, saying the new rules are “potentially detrimental to consumers, business and the UK digital economy”. The big question is how the EU directive will be interpreted into UK law – the implementation of which is down to the Department of Culture, Media and Sport.

According to Outlaw.com, the news site for law firm Pinsent Masons, the DCMS is working on a browser-based solution “to find a way to enhance browser settings so that they can obtain the necessary consent to meet the Directive’s standards”. But Rosemary Jay, a partner at Pinsent Masons and head of information law practice, told Journalism.co.uk this would only work for new downloads of browsers.

One of the things about browser settings, being talked about by the government, is even if you amend browsers it will only do it for new browsers and lots of people that are running browsers that are 10 years old, browsers that are really small. If you do it by re-designing browsers so they can very easily and quickly offer you cookie choices it’s only going to apply when people buy or download a new browser. There are a lot of questions around that. Equally if you say you’ve got to have a pop-up on the front page, or an icon, there are so many cookies that people get all the time for all kinds of peripheral things. Just in a behavioural advertising scenario you could get four cookies dropped during the course of someone delivering just a little bit of video.

Meanwhile TechCrunch’s Mike Butcher raises his concerns about the impact of the rules on EU start-ups.

So, imagine a world where, after 25 May when the law kicks in, your startup has to explicitly make pop-up windows and dialogue boxes appear asking for a user’s permission to gather their data. If enforced his law will kill off the European startup industry stone dead, handing the entire sector to other markets and companies, and largely those in the US.

But while debate rages on about how this law will be implemented in the UK and ultimately therefore the likely implications for users and websites, the BBC’s Rory Cellan Jones calls for some calm while the details are ironed out.

It may, however, be time for everyone to calm down about cookies. EU governments still have not worked out just how the directive will be implemented in domestic law, and what form “consent” to cookies will have to take. In the UK, the internet advertising industry appears confident that reminding people that their browser settings allow them to block cookies will be enough, while the Information Commissioner’s Office seems to think that they will need to do more.

My suspicion is that consumers will actually notice very little after 25 May, and the definition of consent will be pretty vague. But at least the publicity now being given to this “cookie madness” may alert a few more people to the ways in which their web behaviour is tracked. Then we will find out just how many people really care about their online privacy.

TechCrunch editor on AOL, its new ‘sugar daddy’ parent

At the AOP Digital Publishing Summit on Friday Journalism.co.uk caught up with editor of TechCrunch Europe Mike Butcher, to speak about the recent purchase of TechCrunch by AOL. Listen below to hear Butcher discuss TechCrunch’s dedication to independent editorial and the deal-breaker behind the purchase.

[powerpress]

AOL buys TechCrunch

AOL has bought leading technology news site TechCrunch. The deal was signed on stage at TechCrunch’s Disrupt conference ahead of an interview with AOL CEO Tim Armstrong.

According to a blog post by TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington about the sale, the site will be free to criticise AOL in its coverage.

Arrington explains his reasons behind the sale:

The truth is I was tired. But I wasn’t tired of writing, or speaking at events. I was tired of our endless tech problems, our inability to find enough talented engineers who wanted to work, ultimately, on blog and CrunchBase software. And when we did find those engineers, as we so often did, how to keep them happy. Unlike most startups in Silicon Valley, the center of attention at TechCrunch is squarely on the writers. It’s certainly not an engineering driven company.

AOL of course fixes that problem perfectly. They run the largest blogging network in the world and if we sold to them we’d never have to worry about tech issues again. We could focus our engineering resources on higher end things and I, for one, could spend more of my day writing and a lot less time dealing with other stuff.

According to an FT report, Arrington gave no comment on the value of the deal, but has been given “various incentives” to remain at TechCrunch for at least three years following the sale.

(Hat tip to GigaOm, who saw it coming way before us…)

Inc.com: TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington on breaking news and building trust

Great interview with TechCrunch founder and serial entrepreneur Michael Arrington on his approach to publishing, journalism and work.

On breaking news:

We break more big stories than everyone else combined in tech – and that’s not prebriefed news or something that was handed to us. I judge my own performance based on that. When we break a story, that’s a point. When someone else breaks a story, we’re minus a point. And I want to be positive points.

On dealing with sensitive information:

Negotiating with companies over how news breaks is a big part of what we do. I don’t think traditional journalists would do this or admit to it, but a source might say, “Yeah, we just got bought, but can you please not write about it for a week, because it might kill the deal?” Unless I know lots of other journalists are sniffing around, I generally defer to the entrepreneur. We probably lose half of those stories, but it’s the right thing to do. It builds trust. People aren’t going to tell you things if they don’t trust you.

Full post on Inc.com at this link…

Google Wave: Then and now

After less than a year of being available to the public, Google Wave is being phased out as the web giant admits that it hasn’t attracted enough users.

It was unveiled to great fanfare in May 2009, and was heralded by some online tech sites as the future of e-mail and online collaboration, but what are those sites saying now that it’s bitten the dust?

TechCrunch

TechCrunch then (May 2009): “Wave offers a very sleek and easy way to navigate and participate in communication on the web that makes both email and instant messaging look stale”

“It’s ambitious as hell — which we love — but that also leaves it open to the possibility of it falling on its face. But that’s how great products are born. And the potential reward is huge if Google has its way as the ringleader of the complete transition to our digital lives on the web.”

TechCrunch now: “Maybe it was just ahead of its time. Or maybe there were just too many features to ever allow it to be defined properly.”

ReadWriteWeb

ReadWriteWeb then (June 2009): “Once you get into the flow of things, regular email suddenly feels stale and slow. ”

“Like any great tool, Wave gives its users a lot of flexibility and never gets in your way.”

ReadWriteWeb now: “Why did Wave fail? Maybe because if you don’t call it an ’email-killer’ (and you shouldn’t) then you’d have to call it a ‘product, platform and protocol for distributed, real time, app-augmented collaboration.’ That’s daunting and proved accessible to too few people.”

“Maybe this failure should be chalked up as another example of how Google ‘doesn’t get social’ in terms of user experience or successful evangelism. After an immediate explosion of hype, it never felt like Google was really trying very hard with Wave.”

Mashable

Mashable then (May 2009): “Our initial impression of Google Wave is a very positive one. Despite being an early build, communication is intuitive and not cluttered at all. User control is even more robust than we first expected (…) [I]t’s not as complicated as it seems at first look. It’s only slightly more complicated than your standard email client.”

Mashable now: “The product might’ve been more successful had it been integrated into Gmail (basic e-mail notifications weren’t even part of the launch), though Google hasn’t had much success with Buzz in that department either.

“In any event, Wave represents another disappointment in Google’s long line of attempts at social, an area in which the company is now reportedly eyeing a completely new approach. Shutting down Wave, it would seem, is a logical step in moving on.”

Pocket-lint

Pocket-lint then (October 2009): “Google Wave in its current state is an impotent, stunted, stub of a web service, which is functional at best, and buggy at worst. But it’s also the future. Consider the state of Twitter in 2007 – it was just a website with little messages that people pushed out via SMS. No one was terribly impressed.”

Pocket-lint now: “Although the web at large hasn’t embraced Wave in the way in which Google would have hoped, it is a sad day for its users. But it is a platform that would have only really worked if it reached out to a mass audience, and disappointingly, it never did.”

Techie Buzz

Techie Buzz then (September 2009): “Wave is an awesome real-time service for sharing docs, sending emails and much more. In-fact it is the most anticipated product of the year and people are already desperate to get their hands on a invite.”

Techie Buzz now: “I still believe that Wave deserved all the attention it received. It truly was a revolutionary service. Unfortunately, Wave might have been too different for its own good. Many failed to grasp the concept of Wave and struggled to get started, while several others grew frustrated with the chaotic nature of an open ended communication platform like Wave.”

Finally, from Lifehacker’s Gina Trapani, who wrote a book on Google Wave with Adam Pash, an elegy for the beleagured platform:

Wave is a tool I love and use daily, and this announcement makes Adam’s and my user guide essentially a history book, an homage to a product that I believe was simply ahead of its time.

I respect any product that shoots as high as Wave did, even if it misses in the market.