OnPoint by Keith Ng

Read Post

OnPoint: You're going to pay for this

27 Responses

First ←Older Page 1 2 Newer→ Last

  • Paul Brislen,

    Journalism has (in newspapers) always been about selling eyeballs to advertisers, not stories to readers... the readers are the product, not the customer.

    Unfortunately, publishers seem to have moved from the "give the reader good journalism and they'll be back" school of thought to a "we can reuse that story in 15 different publications in six different countries without having to even bother subbing it" model which, quite frankly, is farcical in this day and age.

    I can, for instance, read the same story on NZ Herald, Stuff, Sydney Morning Herald, The Melbourne Age, BBC, Times Online, and so on...

    which begs the question: why do publishers think I want to read it on one more than any of the others? And why aren't they trying to attract my eyeballs with contextual news just as hard as they are trying to attract my eyeballs with contextual advertising?

    Also, it appears I've started the discussion with a blank box. Oh the irony. Russell, help!

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 200 posts Report Reply

  • Andrew Feltoe,

    Contextual advertising? Don't know what you mean.

    John Battelle's book on Google paints a scary picture of the future of targeted advertising. Well worth a read to understand the methods your attention is (and will be) bought and sold on the market.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 15 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    which begs the question: why do publishers think I want to read it on one more than any of the others?

    I'm not quite sure what you mean by that, Paul. If, for the sake of argument, I was the editor of the New Zealand Herald I wouldn't assume that my readership consists of online news junkies. Or am I missing your point?

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Robyn Gallagher,

    Exhibit A: Stuff website, 2000. Exhibit B: Stuff website, 2007. The hard news portion of the website has gone from 80% of page width to 40%.

    I opened the 2000 and 2007 Stuffs and compared them side by side.

    In 2000, my browser size showed links to four stories, but in the 2007 version, there were links to 13 stories. I think the 80% going to 40% was done partly by getting rid of a lot of white space.

    The old Stuff design kinda sucked, but it's interesting to consider what was brought in with the new design.

    In Motoring, you have a Lexus ad.

    Last year I was looking at [a popular news website], when I came across an ad for a car next to an article about a horrific car crash. The ad was sexing up the experience of driving fast (but safely, of course), which seemed even worse.

    Raglan • Since Nov 2006 • 1946 posts Report Reply

  • Glen Wright,

    I had to turn my ad blocker off to see your point. Pity you can't turn the ads off in a newspaper, could save a lot of trees.

    I know only a minority of 'net users will block ads, but there is a function to selectively choose between blocking ads on commoditised news sources, and allowing them to support fine added value content, such as on publicaddress.net .

    Since Nov 2006 • 29 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    There's been a furore in the UK after corporates and government found their ads running on Facebook (etc) against unacceptable content, like the BNP's facebook page. That rather came out of nowhere. It may well hit the income of social networking sites given that there is no way to guarantee what form user-generated content is going to take.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • Michael Fitzgerald,

    Keith
    How can the EMPU really work for its members when Andrew Little openly coverts a Labour Party seat?
    Or EMPU Journos write about Littles conflicts of interest.
    The Labour Govt is a major employer/shareholder and so he seems to push far enough to stay in his job but not far enough to actually do it, that would jeopardise his future options.
    I remember Steve Maharey selling Sth Clerical to EMPU for a seat in Parliment & now Andrew Littles EMPU has done the same.
    As Labour deals with military upgrading & National dealt with Treaty settlements you need to be in opposition to the Govt to get a hope of a fair deal, not in the Govts pocket.

    Since May 2007 • 631 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Brislen,

    Hi Craig, but that's my point... in the Good Old Days (TM) (can we still do (TM) or has that meme fled?) newspapers did write copy aimed at readers in one particular local/segment/whatever... these days they re-use copy from other areas without any regard for relevence whatsoever.

    Have a look at the Stuff "Editor's picks" column. As I write the number one story is "NSW mulls crushing cars to stop boy racers" and one of the others is "Fire exit gets drinker into trouble". The first story might have resonance over here but the second one is about some drunk in a pub south of Perth. I find that kind of thing happens a lot on Stuff - the stories aren't written for a Kiwi audience and yet they're run as if they're local news.

    Can't I just get stuff that's relevent to me/my situation? Sadly, I can - but not from newspapers. Actually, scratch that "sadly"... it's great. I get my news online from the source that's most applicable to the news story. It's the End of Mainstream Media As We Know It and I for one welcome our virtual overlords (aka Russell).

    Cheers

    Paul

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 200 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    I wonder if you're overstating the case a little Keith. Car ads have run in the motoring section of newspapers for so long as there have been motoring sections. Hightly respected newspapers run travel sections whose chief purpose is to attract travel advertising. The thing you want to avoid, of course, is writing editorial to match the ads.

    You may well be right about the motivation for the new lifestyle sections on the newspaper home pages. Contextual advertising works poorly against news and opinion content - Google ads were a hilarious failure on Public Address - and better against product-oriented journalism.

    But those new lifestyle blocks are kind of invisible to me; I just click through to news stories, and it would be interesting to know exactly how well they do for traffic. My guess is, not very.

    If you're running non-product editorial, you're basically selling the virtues of your audience. PA's major selling point is the fact that y'all are, on average, highly-paid, highly-educated influencers who use the internet a lot (you're also more likely to buy stuff online).

    The trouble with you lot is that, as seasoned power-users of the internet, you don't click on most ads (we get paid by impressions rather than clickthroughs, but clicks make advertisers feel more comfortable with their investment). That's also an issue with the type and quality of creative delivered by agencies, who mostly still don't really understand how to engage.

    But ... if you have the odd spare minute, feel free to click on an ad ...

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22834 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    I wonder if you're overstating the case a little Keith. Car ads have run in the motoring section of newspapers for so long as there have been motoring sections. Hightly respected newspapers run travel sections whose chief purpose is to attract travel advertising.

    That's true, and I was thinking the same thing as I read Russell. What Keith didn't state as explicitly as I'd like to have seen, and what I'm never sure if I should worry about, is the linking of advertising to your google searches.

    It's not putting car related adverts on car-related pages. It's looking through everything you've ever searched for and putting up adverts which relate to that. Knowing that you searched for 'car repairs' last week so putting up adverts stating 'sick of your car breaking down? buy a new XXX!'

    I can see it has advantages for both sides, but I'm not sure if I'm comfortable with my adverts knowing that much about me personally.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Paul:

    Cheers, I just wanted to make sure I was engaging with the argument you were actually making, And, sure, you have a point - I just don't think its one you couldn't have made with equal force before teh interweb came along to kill our brainz. :) At the risk of sounding like an insensitive bastard, was there any real news value beyond the blanket coverage of the Minnesota bridge collapse beyond "if it bleeds it leads - and if we've got enough entertainingly ghastly pix it leads all week"?

    I wonder if the real problem is a 24/7 news cycle. Not so long ago, you skimmed a morning newspaper over breakfast, watched the (only) TV news bulletin at six o'clock, and (perhaps) caught the headlines on radio before you went to bed. Just because there's more space to fill - and more competition in the media marketplace - doesn't necessarily mean there's more going on in the world. :)

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Jeremy Andrew,

    I'm not sure if I'm comfortable with my adverts knowing that much about me personally

    I know what you mean (but not the way Google knows what you mean...). Turning off cookies stuffs them up, but that also kills off some other functionality that I do like. You can have a cookie whitelist in IE7, which I haven't been arsed playing with yet though.

    Hamiltron - City of the F… • Since Nov 2006 • 900 posts Report Reply

  • Hamish McKenzie,

    Having delved even deeper into the underbelly of the nefarious marketing journalism, and worked for magazines that have tailored some content to suit advertisers, I must say that my view of the role of contextual advertising is somewhat sunnier.

    For a start, ads delivered by the likes of Google AdSense and Yahoo's Panama — as well as the by-hand delivery of ads according to sections — fit the advertising to the content, rather than the other way round. This has numerous benefits.

    From the marketer's perspective, he can target intelligently his desired audience without so much waste, thereby getting better return on investment and improving his brand reputation (because he avoids generating resentment from people who aren't at all interested in the brand — because they have a lower chance of seeing the ad). Now, I know we often pretend we don't care about marketers, but actually, this is a good thing. Advertisers are the reason journalists get paid — and to have happy advertisers means the likelihood of that payslip arriving in the mail next month is much improved.

    More importantly, contextual advertising benefits publishers — especially niche publishers, such as Public Address. The high targetability (made-up word) of such ads means even sites with audiences at the far end of the long-tail can have an attractive advertising proposition. And it's a tremendous strength of digital technologies — perhaps a saving grace for media organisations suffering from the fragmentation of channels and the turning away from expensive print — that they can offer advertisers very defined tracking, updating, and results. Ultimately, this should result in improved revenues for publishers with strong digital offerings, which should in turn bolster the strength of their products — which is good for consumers.

    Which brings me to the most important thing: us. If I must be fed advertising — and for those of us who don't block ads on our browsers — then I'd much prefer to be fed ads that might have some relevance to my life. And if that means a complex set of equations is sorting through my search history? So what? That's the point of search — to return relevant information on a request. Yeah, I know I'm putting a lot of trust in companies that have stuffed this up before, but I'm hoping they've all learned some lessons from past mistakes.

    So, I don't think contextual advertising will have a negative effect. In fact, most advertising is contextual — it's just the automated contextualisation you're worried about. But what Google and Yahoo's tools are doing is making the ads find the content, and not the other way around.

    I like that.

    Hong Kong • Since Aug 2007 • 3 posts Report Reply

  • Keith Ng,

    Paul:

    which begs the question: why do publishers think I want to read it on one more than any of the others?

    I think the idea is that they just need to have a strong brand, and that brand loyalty will keep readers there till the end of time. There's always going to be *some* local content, so even if there's no unique value from the other stuff they're offering, they just need to be marginally better to keep you. Not everyone surfs through Reuters or have their own news aggregators...

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 543 posts Report Reply

  • Keith Ng,

    Hamish:

    Having delved even deeper into the underbelly of the nefarious marketing journalism...

    Ah Hamish, you're the Andy Lau to my Lam Ka Tung. Never getting into an elevator with you again.

    But I think your point applies to machine-driven contextual advertising, whereas in the NZ sites, the contextual drive is the bunch of guys in the sales team, and the ads are made at the big ad agencies. These don't scale up or smart-distribute like a text Google-ad does. They're only contextual advertising in the theoretical, rather than technical, sense of the word.

    But more to the point (and to address Russell's), the difference between traditional advertising-oriented sub-publications and these new sections are the very defined tracking tools. Travel advertisers won't care about how many readers are in the news section unless their tracking tools tell them that they're in the travel section. And unlike a paper, you don't even have to throw away sections that you don't want, you just ignore them. This will put pressure on the websites to pimp their commercial content more than before, and my ultimate concern is that this will also shift investment towards those sections, away from civic journalism.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 543 posts Report Reply

  • Hamish McKenzie,

    Mr. Lam:

    I take your point – but if your warning is for the future effect of contextual advertising on editorial, then I think you'll find there will soon be big changes from what NZ has now. Rather than the audience-size-determined contextualisation you speak of, ads — even fancy ones designed by agencies — will be delivered according to behavioral targeting, where campaign managers will track how users interact with ads and adjust their strategies accordingly on a second-by-second basis. That could mean changing the creative, changing where the ad is placed, or changing how frequently it is placed. The end-goal in this instance is click-throughs, but that's not a factor determined by audience size so much as relevance to the audience. That relevance is enhanced by better targeting through sophisticated tracking, cookies, and what not. So, it'll still be a case of advertising chasing the content, rather than the other way round.

    Thus, the sweet power of automated contextualisation wins again.

    (Sorry about my shoddy prose before and my attempt to link — only now do I see the note that HTML is not supported. Woops.)

    Hong Kong • Since Aug 2007 • 3 posts Report Reply

  • Keith Ng,

    Will it mean that they don't place ads in irrelevant content?

    Will it mean, therefore, that "irrelevant" content don't generate revenue?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 543 posts Report Reply

  • Hamish McKenzie,

    It'll mean that content that was previously less relevant to advertisers will be increasingly more attractive to advertisers looking to connect with hard-to-reach audiences — especially niche audiences (the long tail). Therefore, it opens up possibilities for content that didn't previously generate revenue to start generating revenue.

    Hong Kong • Since Aug 2007 • 3 posts Report Reply

  • dc_red,

    As an aside, the 16 Aug 2000 Stuff archive contains this wonderful headline and teaser:

    Clinton bids triumphal farewell, extols record

    LOS ANGELES (Reuters): President Bill Clinton bid a feisty and triumphful farewell to his Democratic Party on Monday, giving thanks that a man from "a small southern town" could serve as president and hailing a nation at the pinnacle of prosperity.
    »READ MORE

    And that despite his numerous, and well-documented, failings. It's hard to imagine Bush leaving office with anything other than a kick in the ass, and a general sense of "what the fuck is the next President going to do with this mess?"

    Oil Patch, Alberta • Since Nov 2006 • 706 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    Will it mean that they don't place ads in irrelevant content?

    Will it mean, therefore, that "irrelevant" content don't generate revenue?

    In a previous discussion we touched upon the increase amount of gossip (er, celebrity news) on our beloved online dailies, and regardless of the merits I think we all agreed that that fluff of course is a readership enhancer - the readers' picks are almost always topped by such things. But could it be that way back, in the "before" snapshot of Stuff, newspapers in the main were still busy positioning themselves on the Internet, and that now they are working on how to turn a buck?

    Given that fencing content with various kinds of subscription models hasn't worked (does anybody remember when the Onion used to come out one day for subscribers, and a couple of days later for everybody else - what was up with *that*?), they've got to push the ads, and for that they need a certain kind of content - what company wants to associate its name to child abuse, of nuclear disarmament talks, or AIDS epidemics? It doesn't mean they're going to stop talking about those things, to the limited extent that they do already, because they need their cred as sources of hard news in order to push the fluff. You can make the point that at this rate in another seven years it might all be fluff, but I rather see it as a balancing act, as in to what extent we can increase the fluff without damaging our reputation and/or turning people away. It goes to Russell's point as well: you'll still want to cultivate the kind of readership that is worth peddling stuff to, and that will protect the hard news (and other unsexy stuff) to some extent. I don't know that even from the point of view of an advertiser you could then call that "irrelevant" content, simply because you don't place ads on it.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Jeremy Andrew,

    what company wants to associate its name to child abuse, of nuclear disarmament talks, or AIDS epidemics?

    But the advertisers who end up adjacent to such articles aren't necessarily being associated with the content - they will be keen on associating themselves with the type of reader who reads the hard news (instead of, or as well as, the fluff).
    I'm sure the demographic who read proper news have various traits that would endear them to certain advertisers, as opposed to the readers o fLindsay and Britney's latest exploits.

    Hamiltron - City of the F… • Since Nov 2006 • 900 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    But the advertisers who end up adjacent to such articles aren't necessarily being associated with the content - they will be keen on associating themselves with the type of reader who reads the hard news

    Presumably you want the reader when s/he's in an appropriately idle/playful mood. Unlikely thought process: "Now that I'm finished reading this article about AIDS ravaged Etiopia, I think I'll check out this all new Nissan here." I also strongly suspect they'd try to avoid appearing next to the thing, but I could be wrong. Unless they're Oxfam or something of course.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Jeremy Andrew,

    Sure the advertising crew will have to work a bit smarter, but the results will be worth it. Hard news readers will generally be better educated, in better jobs and probably better paid. Getting some brand recognition to their specific eyeballs will be worth the bit of brainpower it takes to design ads that can sit next to a commentary on a massacre in Darfur and not seem tawdry.

    Hamiltron - City of the F… • Since Nov 2006 • 900 posts Report Reply

  • Angus Robertson,

    Paul Brislem said in the first comment:

    Journalism has (in newspapers) always been about selling eyeballs to advertisers, not stories to readers... the readers are the product, not the customer.

    Age old question of retail - make more money by selling more highly profitable product to a select band of customers or by selling more of a less profitable product?

    Only if news-providers solely go for the highly profitable product route with stories linked to adds will Kieth's assertion be justifiable.

    However if they want more readers they need to appeal to more readers by making headline news and Kieth's assertion is not justifiable.

    Auckland • Since May 2007 • 984 posts Report Reply

  • Jeremy Andrew,

    Except with news, its not an either/or situation, more of a continuum. They can have the wide-appeal, lowest common denominator, Britney's boobs stories as well as the more focussed, high-brow analysis.
    People already customise their newspapers, they chuck away the sections they don't read. Online, they'll ignore the sections they don't read.
    The difference is, with smart cookies and analysis, they can target the ads in each section with more accuracy. They don't need broad-brush demographics like "women read the fashion pages, men read sports, well off people read the business section, etc". They will know that I am a male in my age group, and which articles and types of article I read, they may well extract my income bracket and other useful info from some "competition" questionnaire or survey, they'll know that I have kids, a mortgage, a wife, what city I live in, what supermarket I shop in, my inside leg measurement. I'll see ads that sell things I am likely to buy, I won't see ads for wrinkle cream or Prada handbags, or mercedes convertibles, I will know when there's a CD sale at the Warehouse, or if a local shop has my favourite beer on sale.
    If I click on lots of ads, or just a few high value ones, then there are likely to be more of the type of article I read turning up.

    Hamiltron - City of the F… • Since Nov 2006 • 900 posts Report Reply

First ←Older Page 1 2 Newer→ Last

Post your response…

Please sign in using your Public Address credentials…

Login

You may also create an account or retrieve your password.