Posts tagged web content
Posts tagged web content
Picking up the thread from Ann Handley’s excellent piece: The more I encounter folks who don’t have a journalism background — and the accompanying struggles they sometimes have in adapting to Web community, conversation and content — the more I realize all those journalism classes and years of training have given me a leg up in the Web world. Strong headlines, copy editing, fact checking, healthy cynicism, substance over fluff, identifying intent, audience advocacy, clarity above all else — all were burned into my soul by fantastic teachers, and all work exceptionally well on the Web. Journalists just get this stuff. What the industry becomes — and how it makes money — are issues that need to be ironed out, but I have no doubt journalism skills will yield excellent return on investment in the digital realm.
Via Bob Stepno’s boblog.
This article may signal a long-needed change in Web advertising: Advertisers are beginning to understand — really understand — the strengths and limitations of data analysis.
Many advertisers have already jumped on the analytics bandwagon in a basic manner. Most know about page views, visits and other metrics, and they use this information to craft campaigns. The logical extension of this is to move headlong into full-on data analysis, where reams of information allow ad firms to make educated decisions and adaptations on the fly.
While I’m happy to see this happening, there’s a second component that still needs to be addressed: advertisers need to understand that Web-based audiences are inherently different than the broad-based groups aggregated by traditional media. Web audiences aren’t locked in to specific channels or mediums. They can go where they want, whenever they want. As such, people naturally form, disconnect, and re-form. A few massive channels remain (Yahoo, AOL, etc.), but that’s not the norm in the distributed Web world.
My hope is that a new wave of formal data analysis opens advertisers’ eyes to this change. Media companies can pound their chests over subscriptions and micro-payments, but advertising will continue to be a vital revenue stream for digital businesses. The sooner advertisers embrace the true nature of Web audiences, the better for all involved.
David Carr cuts through the naivete of “one paywall to rule them all” thinking:
Throwing up a big content wall would satisfy a visceral need on the part of journalists to have people pay for their work, but it would be a bet-the-company move at a very perilous time for media companies, including, yes, The New York Times. As it is, the company will use all levers — paper and digital, consumer and advertising, cost and investment — to maneuver very carefully through complicated waters.
Internet revenue is out there, but it must be aggregated from hundreds of sources: advertising, subscriptions, affiliate relationships, conferences, consulting, mobile, etc. Sustainability will come from the combination of appropriately scaled organizations (i.e. way smaller) and successful management of these myriad revenue sources. A tough task, no doubt, but this is the reality we face.
This should be interesting …
The owner of the Mercury News says the answer is to end the free ride online. It is a decision labeled risky by former Mercury News online editor Michael Bazeley. “There’s an expectation, particularly among the younger generation, that when you go online, most of the information you’re going to get is going to be free with few exceptions, and this idea of re-training people to think now they have to pay for this content, I think, is a risky proposition,” said Bazeley.
Assuming the Mercury News is still around in six months, I hope they’ll share results from this effort. Specifically, I’d want to see page views and unique users before and after the switch. And if they’re feeling transparent, the industry would benefit from an advertising vs. pay-to-read revenue analysis.
Fundamentally, I agree with the following …
True e-book value is created by friendly and extensive navigation and search capabilities, graphics, tables, references and notes, indexing and appendices. Even greater value will be created when the reader can manipulate content and share it easily with others.
… but the whole idea of stand-alone e-books is flawed. Digital content is not defined by its container. The values noted in this passage are inherent in Web material, yet you never see the e-book discussion transform into a Web content discussion. I would much rather create a Web package, with all the built-in sharing and multimedia features, then create a static book (digital or otherwise).
This piece focuses on the top-down vs. bottom-up approaches of design, but some of the insights apply to citizen journalism as well.
I’ve always believed that the best Web-based content efforts involve equal portions of top-down editorial decisions from trained journalists with bottom-up insight from the community. Alone, neither method is particularly useful, but together you see a symbiotic relationship form between content, community, feedback and editorial experimentation. This is why the Web is so profound; no other platform has this feedback loop built in.
The offerings were always paltry, but back in ‘96 Geocities helped me take my first baby steps into HTML and Web content development.
Fun related post: Whatever Happened to the Top 15 Web Properties of April, 1999?
AOL’s focus is interesting because it takes a long-discussed idea — what if Google got into original content? — and tests it. Consider this passage from the Business Week piece:
Owning a popular destination that’s built to divert traffic to subsidiary properties is a huge asset (as Yahoo knows). The challenge for AOL, Yahoo and other popular sites with perception issues is to manage their own expectations: there’s value in that traffic — and more than enough advertising dollars to create a strong business — but they have to fight the urge to overestimate the future. Web-based content businesses need to be lean, efficient and small(er).
… AOL comes to this game with substantial advantages, thanks to its daily gusher of traffic. Its sites still get more than 100 million unique visitors each month; around one-third of that traffic hits the home page. And its e-mail and instant messaging services still are widely used. MediaGlow CEO Bill Wilson disclosed through a spokeswoman that around 40% of MediaGlow’s traffic comes from AOL’s home page and other sites in the AOL network.
Thirty is too many. Twenty is too many. In fact, one more staffer than is absolutely necessary is too many. Businesses — and this is a business — are built from the bottom up. You simply cannot go into an initiative with a goal of supporting X number of people.
… the investors were not comfortable with several aspects of the business, including the amount of staff, thinking that 30 was too many.