Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: NZME and you

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  • Moz, in reply to Russell Brown,

    one reason I avoid apple is because they insist on ads everywhere. ... Genuine question: what ads are these?

    When I played with an iPhone a while ago the "free" apps I saw all had ads embedded in them. One complaint from the tech-savvy owner was that those ads were impossible to filter out without breaking the apps. At least one app that I found useful had no paid option, you just had to accept 1/5 of the screen being ads. Blinking ads. And don't get me started on the screen size Apple lets you have. I'm one of the "no-one wants a big screen" people that Apple doesn't want.

    Plus I read an article talking about Apples new news service that uses an Apple advertising system. So it sounds more like a "no competing ads" move. Call me a cynic, but I really don't think Apple is doing this because they hate advertising. Hate seeing billions go to Doubleclick sounds much more plausible.

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 1200 posts Report Reply

  • Cameron Pitches,

    If you think of anything, let me know

    Russell, what's your take on Google ads? It's not unheard of for NZ blogging sites to bring in a hundred bucks a day. Surely better than a kick in the pants?

    As a reader, I think it's a fair trade to read good articles for free in exchange for scanning over a few ads (as long as they don't slow down the loading of the site).

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 21 posts Report Reply

  • steven crawford,

    It’s not unheard of for NZ blogging sites to bring in a hundred bucks a day. Surely better than a kick in the pants?

    I’m not wearing any add-blockers ;-)

    Atlantis • Since Nov 2006 • 4337 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Cameron Pitches,

    It’s not unheard of for NZ blogging sites to bring in a hundred bucks a day.

    I think the problem with sites like this is that they don’t attract high value ads. The best value ads are attracted by sites that are basically about the product advertised. They’re high value because the people going to the site are naturally interested in the ads. But what product really has that synergy with people who are interested in the news and general discussion?

    I’d suggest this is also part of the problem with the bloody annoying advertising on MSM too – they just don’t know what to target, because too many people are interested in the news.

    As far as I can tell, there’s a Google ad at the top of this page right now. It’s, unsurprisingly, an ad for a news site, Scoop.

    If this were a thread about the cheapest second hand import cars in town, then probably the ads would be for TradeMe and Mazda, and so on. If someone actually bought a car as a result of clicking through on one of the ads, the payout for the conversion could be quite reasonable. If there was a lively discussion on the topic with lots of in-links, it could even be high ranking in Google. But it would also probably not be the site we’ve come to love.

    Catch 22. I don’t know the answer – it’s a tough one for me to even put myself into the mind-space of: How to get a dying form of capitalism to survive? Ultimately, it’s not the system I believe in, although I recognize that it has produced good works, and supports a lot of people, including people I care about. But it’s hard for me to feel bitter on what has killed it, something between utopia and dystopia, a world where people freely give away their work just because they love it. Utopian because if we could survive doing it, it’s probably what we’d do. Dystopian because we can’t survive.*

    Hence:

    Roll on the universal basic income.

    +1


    *ETA: Also dystopian because those who can survive doing it are driven to the worst kind of content, basically writing advertising copy.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10641 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Moz,

    And don't get me started on the screen size Apple lets you have.

    5.5 inches

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19695 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to BenWilson,

    As far as I can tell, there’s a Google ad at the top of this page right now. It’s, unsurprisingly, an ad for a news site, Scoop.

    Nope. Tis from Scoop's ad-serving network; Public Address is a member.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19695 posts Report Reply

  • James Littlewood*,

    Reading through this discourse puts me in mind of the public broadcasting license. I think Bolger put an end to it in 1999, in his last political act before electoral feat later the same year.

    A license, for which a fee was collected by NZOA and then distributed around national broadcasters for targeted genres. Imagine that.

    Funny thing was NZOA chose not to fund news or current affairs, precisely because those genres attracted sufficient ad revenue to pay their own way.

    How long will that last? I guess we're now well on the way to filing news under "special interest."

    Auckland • Since Mar 2008 • 410 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Cameron Pitches,

    Russell, what's your take on Google ads? It's not unheard of for NZ blogging sites to bring in a hundred bucks a day. Surely better than a kick in the pants?

    Maybe things have changed, but Google ads didn't work for us at all. Google had trouble matching ads to content – it works much better for product and technical blogs.

    And they're performance-based and hardly anyone in our readership clicked on them, or any other performance-based advertising. When Scoop reluctantly sold some performance-based campaigns, Public Address performed worse than any other site in the network.

    Only stupid people click on ads, clearly.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22759 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to BenWilson,

    The best value ads are attracted by sites that are basically about the product advertised. They’re high value because the people going to the site are naturally interested in the ads. But what product really has that synergy with people who are interested in the news and general discussion?

    Yep, that was precisely our problem.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22759 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Moz,

    When I played with an iPhone a while ago the "free" apps I saw all had ads embedded in them.

    Isn't that exactly the case with free apps on Google Play?

    One complaint from the tech-savvy owner was that those ads were impossible to filter out without breaking the apps.

    Well, yeah, iOS is better locked down than Android. Which means you get few malicious apps and is why 97% of mobile malware is on Android. But it's absolutely true that Apple's privacy policy has crippled its iAd business:

    Apple's iAd business can grow only if the iPhone and iPad manufacturer will be more willing to share its treasure trove of data. Advertisers can know a lot about their market when they know their location, age, likes, shopping patterns, among others but it seems Apple doesn't want to give them those information.

    A new report on Advertising Age has revealed what advertisers think of Apple's arrogance when it comes to its mobile advertising platform and its tight grip on user data. This attitude towards its ad business turns off advertisers and makes them turn elsewhere, perhaps other avenues such as Google, Yahoo, or Facebook that make life a lot easier for them.

    While Google raked in a revenue of $3.98 billion from mobile ad and Facebook pocketed $1.53 billion, Apple's mobile ad earnings can be considered meager at $258 million.

    You can't turn off ads in ad-supported free iOS apps, no. But you can turn off ad tracking as a system feature.

    A senior iAd executive bitched about the privacy policy when he resigned this year:

    “I don’t believe they [Apple] are interested in this capability because they have a strict policy around what they do with user data,” Crawford said. “IAd has great assets and great capabilities, but they are going to follow Apple’s policy to the letter of the law.”

    In other words, he believes that because iAd doesn’t harvest and share private user information with marketers, that the service is restricted or held back. His suggestion then is that Apple’s moral code gets in the way of a potentially very promising platform.

    Personally, I’d rather know that my user data was safe. Drawbridge’s technology – on first read – sounds quite terrifying.

    This came just after Tim Cook reiterated the privacy policy.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22759 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Semmens,

    “there is no longer any requirement for Auckland commentary”.

    The democratic implications of having a media where political and Auckland coverage is all rolled up in one series of uncritical celebrity worship news about Max Key's bimbo girlfriend and her performance in a beauty pageant are terrifying.

    Sevilla, Espana • Since Nov 2006 • 2213 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Semmens,

    Reading through this discourse puts me in mind of the public broadcasting license. I think Bolger put an end to it in 1999, in his last political act before electoral feat later the same year.

    I am a strong believer that some sort of broadcasting fee needs to be brought back - possibly by taxing internet downloads. I have no idea how much data New Zealanders download every year, but a small tax on each gigabyte, collected by ISPs and built into the monthly line rental of users, could potentailly be a very profitable way to make public broadcasting free of tax payer funding... If guess that if you wanted to raise a 100 million a year and someone knows how much data is downloaded in NZ every year it would be easy to work out the tax per gigabyte, and that would tell you if it was a practical idea or not.

    Sevilla, Espana • Since Nov 2006 • 2213 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Only stupid people click on ads, clearly.

    It's like reading the comments ... oh wait

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4451 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to James Littlewood*,

    Funny thing was NZOA chose not to fund news or current affairs, precisely because those genres attracted sufficient ad revenue to pay their own way.

    How long will that last? I guess we're now well on the way to filing news under "special interest."

    They've funded '3D Investigates' - which has not been enough to prevent it moving from the Sunday 6.30 slot to Monday 9.30pm. Perhaps eyeballs at the same time is too crude a measure of value.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19695 posts Report Reply

  • Vivid, in reply to Russell Brown,

    While Google raked in a revenue of $3.98 billion from mobile ad and Facebook pocketed $1.53 billion, Apple's mobile ad earnings can be considered meager at $258 million.

    This is why Apple is allowing ad-blockers in safari on the iPhone. Not to improve the browsing experience of its customers but to, as the largest supplier of eyeballs to adverts in the mobile market, slash the incomes of google and Facebook while creating a modest market for themselves inside news.

    Incidentally, when News dropped Wired were onboard as a release partner, featuring prominently on apples news page. They held a story back from the website to make it a news exclusive and have pissed off their last 12 readers

    Wairarapa • Since May 2015 • 43 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen,

    Sorry for a half formed thought but it seems to me part of the problem with the MSM has to do with how effective advertising is now. Because the audiences are spread far and wide, often to very special interest places, any advertising anywhere is less effective. That makes advertising companies less successful and means they are less able to pay.

    In essence the breakup of the viewing audience(s) makes the model of advertising products or services in order to get business less viable altogether.

    Part of the response to that is businesses rely less on advertising and more on the quality of their own media (web) presence to promote business. We don't flick through a newspaper to find a service or product we search the web which is a model that excludes both advertising companies and MSM from our dollar.

    I'm not sure what that means for entities like The Herald or TV3.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4451 posts Report Reply

  • bob daktari, in reply to Sacha,

    plus Q&A, The Nation and a whole bunch of others no doubt - what they haven't done is fund the various news bulletins

    auckland • Since Dec 2006 • 538 posts Report Reply

  • Stansta, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Sites need 1 of 2 things to survive (ideally both) Reach and relevance.
    Unfortunately most NZ sites don't have Reach so need to be relevant, attracting attracting a high value audience.
    Now you need to sell that "high value audience".
    Selling stuff is expensive to do well.
    You either hire a rep (Who needs great agency relationships to be a success) or you sell your audience through an ad network, where you become one of many sites being represented.
    The ad agencies are under cost pressures also and looking for ways to be more efficient.
    This results in a large proportion of media buys ending up on the same dozen sites or via their trading desks.
    This isn't good for most NZ sites.
    The industry needs to be reimagined for NZ publishers to survive.....

    Since Sep 2015 • 2 posts Report Reply

  • llew40,

    The other challenge for advertisers (and media outlets) is that, increasingly, consumers are becoming channel-agnostic, and often have news or content 'self-curated' for them by the crowd of their contacts on social media.

    When FB, Twitter etc become the default channels, then investing in building an audience for content that either consumers or advertisers are willing to pay for becomes even harder. I've seen a lot of money thrown at the development of new standalone channels - not many of them deliver a return.

    Another challenge is that of content rights. Its hard for a news or content business to invest in future content and in its people when, increasingly, any rights it holds in existing content are undermined and devalued by digital technologies and the ability it provides to copy or publish or share content etc across various boundaries.

    A world in which it becomes easier to get things for free is not particularly conducive to being able to retain and pay for quality journalism.

    Since Nov 2012 • 140 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to llew40,

    A world in which it becomes easier to get things for free is not particularly conducive to being able to retain and pay for quality journalism.

    It's not just getting things for free. Because I can choose to wait and buy content that I specifically want, I can pay the creators without the need to pay for stuff I don't want, including ads.

    That includes buying news content, the more that MSM news becomes lightweight and valueless to me, the more likely I am to pay a subscription. That model screws up MSM and advertisers.

    I'd happily subscribe to a genuine NZ news service that used my subscription to pay journalists. But are there enough people like me to make it work? And would I actually get the news I need rather than just the news I want?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4451 posts Report Reply

  • llew40,

    But are there enough people like me to make it work?

    I think this is the nub of it. I didnt mean to infer that getting news for free is universal. There are many people who are willing to pay for content/news creation and who respect property rights and the need for a business to be able to be profitable enough to pay its people and invest in its own future. Sadly, there are many who aren't. It all chips away at the industry viability.

    But I take your point - what comes first, the valueless news or the news that can no longer command a value?

    Since Nov 2012 • 140 posts Report Reply

  • Berinthia Binnie,

    Well this is topical in my little bubble.

    I have recently ditched a few of my nostalgia reads (SS Times/Listener: grew up in the eighties) as the enjoyment, for me, was gone but the habit wasn't. So time to relocate the limited time and funds to new reads.

    Digital New Yorker replaces SS Times, I even don't mind the ads.....and I came back here a week ago looking to fill a local read need, and escape the feeling of being constantly manipulated by the newz (void not necessarily left by the Listener but funds now available).

    With ads, quite simply if the audience for both content and ads match then the reader experience is enhanced. The ads are a service or enlightenment rather than an invasion. The 'anyones money will do' approach to advertising, best exemplified in small local papers noisy, jam packed back pages benefits noone.

    Since Sep 2015 • 23 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Stowell,

    On the same general topic: if anyone hasn't seen it, Josh Marshall's Talking Points Memo is a completely 'new media' site, broadly focussed on US political news from left-of-centre. It's grown from one-man-blogging to a staff of about 20, I'd guess. Much of the appeal is the editorial comment - ranging from very insightful to bitingly sarcastic. In a vastly larger market, they've developed a subscriber model over the last two or three years - for stability and to supplement (what must have once been considerable, but is now likely declining) ad revenue. Here's the TPM pitch for subscribers.

    Whakaraupo • Since Nov 2006 • 2093 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    And would I actually get the news I need rather than just the news I want?

    quite - which goes back to the value of a 4th estate, amongst other things.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19695 posts Report Reply

  • Alastair Thompson,

    There has been a bunch of discussion in this thread about the role of advertising in all of this, as a cause and as a solution to the problem.

    The advertising markets are not well understood by the public nor by the media - and this is pretty clear in reading through the discussion.

    Truth is its the simple physics of the thing that is killing an advertising funded news industry. Three centuries of marketing funded news are coming to an end.

    People spend 14 hours on average online. Mostly watching video. Roughly half of that time is spent on Facebook which is the biggest online video broadcaster by a country mile. Google and Facebook as a result are now earning more than half of all digital marketing revenue. The amount of time in agregate spent looking at "news" online is relatively small and "public interest news" i.e. serious news about serious shit is close to zero.

    Which is not to say that all is lost.

    I have written about these issues all year and in April at the height of #savecampbelllive proposed a campaign for advertiser responsibility.

    If Govt mandated that its agencies spent part of its advertising dollars in NZ News publishing environments that would make a huge difference. If corporates followed suit ditto. And both Government and Business need journalism... to protect themselves from each other.

    And there is also Scoop's new approach to news copyright. which is gaining traction fast.

    Finally, hating on the news companies is not the solution. Part of the reason that they are making the daft decisions that they are is that they are unable to face the truth and acknowledge that the click-bait - online on air everywhere - a consolidated marketing suite tracking customers through the day - models are not working and that at the moment they are walking towards a fire basically hoping that by the time it gets hot they will magically develop some way to repel the flames.

    I talked at length about the challenges facing news companies back in January here - describing both the media's unwillingness to report on its own struggles + the cycle of value destruction which is inherent in a flight towards click-bait predicated on the idea that giving the advertisers what they think they want is the solution.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 220 posts Report Reply

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