Hunting for reader revenue, Scroll sets up shop for 2019 with more publishers and $10 million raised


This post is by Christine Schmidt from Nieman Lab


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With new publishing partners and $7 million more in funding, the TSA-Pre✓-for-Internet-news-consumption startup Scroll — led by former executives of Chartbeat, Spotify, and Foursquare — plans to unfurl in 2019’s first quarter. Ken Doctor characterized Scroll this way last fall, when the startup was one year in: “Talk to people in the news industry about what they think of his new startup Scroll, and they hesitate. They may stumble describing its model. They’ll say it’s something they’re watching. And then they’ll tell you if Tony Haile is behind it, they expect to see something impressive.” So, no pressure — but the team is getting closer to delivering. The bet Haile, Chartbeat’s founding CEO, is making with Scroll is that he can convince online news readers — both subscribers and non-subscribers — to pay $5 a month for a substantially better, ad-free user experience on the news sites they Continue reading "Hunting for reader revenue, Scroll sets up shop for 2019 with more publishers and $10 million raised"

The Outline built itself on being “weird.” But is it weird enough to survive?


This post is by Laura Hazard Owen from Nieman Lab


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There are some sites that everyone roots for. Scrappy, beloved. See: The Awl. The Toast. Or not so scrappy, but beloved still. See: Grantland. When they shut down, people mourn them. Then there’s The Outline. In April 2016, Joshua Topolsky wrote a Medium post entitled “Your media business will not be saved.” Topolsky, the cofounder of The Verge, had left his position as Bloomberg’s top digital editor several months before. “Your problem,” he told his fellow media people, “is that you make shit”:
A lot of shit. Cheap shit. And no one cares about you or your cheap shit. And an increasingly aware, connected, and mutable audience is onto your cheap shit. They don’t want your cheap shit. They want the good shit. And they will go to find it somewhere. Hell, they’ll even pay for it. The truth is that the best and most important things the
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Newsonomics: With an expanding Wirecutter, The New York Times is doubling down on diversification


This post is by Ken Doctor from Nieman Lab


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Imagine a world in which Donald Trump is no longer President.       No, really. Okay, if that concept’s beyond your immediate comprehension, let’s make the question a bit more concrete: Imagine what’ll happen to the news business in a world in which Donald Trump is no longer president. Yes, the Trump Bump in digital subscriptions is long gone, replaced by a steadier, lower-key growth rate for The New York Times, The Washington Post, and others. But traffic continues to go through the roof, alongside the nation’s temper. No one has ever seen news days, or news weeks, like this. Like all things, it’s unlikely to last. So the business question: If you ran a news company and could anticipate this future non-Trump time — one in which national attention isn’t riveted to every god-forbid smartphone notification — how might you prepare? You might pay more and more attention Continue reading "Newsonomics: With an expanding Wirecutter, The New York Times is doubling down on diversification"

AM/FM radio holds strong for American listeners


This post is by Christine Schmidt from Nieman Lab


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While local TV news still barely beats the internet as the top source of news for Americans (no, really), viewership and revenue continued to slide in 2017, according to Pew’s latest local TV news fact sheet. Americans are still drawn to audio content, with high percentages tuning into some kind of radio station (there are only 26 all-news terrestrial radio stations left) and podcast listenership continuing to grow. Local TV news Average audience decreased by 15 percent in 2017 over the previous year, with evening news remaining stable — though late night and early evening declined by seven percent, and midday declined four percent. (The data comes from ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC affiliates.) Partly because it wasn’t an election year (when political advertising bumps up the airwaves’ coffers), total over-the-air ad revenue for local TV decreased by 13 percent, to $17.4 billion. Online, advertising for local Continue reading "AM/FM radio holds strong for American listeners"

European news sites are among the worst offenders when it comes to third-party cookies and content


This post is by Shan Wang from Nieman Lab


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The forthcoming General Data Protection Regulation on May 25 is pushing publishers to take a hard look at just how dependent their outlets have become on cookies third-party trackers they load on their own sites in order to collect data from their visitors. News sites actually load more third-party content and set more third-party cookies than other top websites, according to a new study of websites across seven European countries from the Reuters Institute. News sites in those countries averaged 40 different third-party domains per page and 81 third-party cookies per page, compared to an average of 10 and 12, respectively, for the group of top websites in those countries. (Among sites that run some kind of advertising, the study found that news sites on average load four times as many third-party domains compared to other top websites.) U.K. news sites were, on average, the most bloated of
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Jason Kint: Here are 5 ways Facebook violates consumer expectations to maximize its profits


This post is by Jason Kint from Nieman Lab


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As the Facebook scandal continues to snowball, COO Sheryl Sandberg and CEO Mark Zuckerberg have finally admitted publicly they have a lot of work to do to restore trust in, and combat abuse of, their platform. Those are facts supported by independent research from Edelman. Trust is a result of delivering on expectations, whether the customer is another business or the public. Facebook and Google, more than any other two companies, have controlled and influenced the trust issues now being surfaced across our industry which impact the publishers and advertisers who choose to associate with their platforms. In 2014, I wrote about Facebook’s questionable practices in The Wall Street Journal, focusing on Facebook’s mining of user’s browsing history. We argued that people do not expect Facebook to track them across the web and within apps in order to target advertising to them. Unfortunately, the backlash was slow to build
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Newsonomics: The Denver Post’s protest should launch a new era of “calling B.S.”


This post is by Ken Doctor from Nieman Lab


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What are we to make of The Denver Post’s “extraordinary display of defiance”? As the paper’s editorial board, led by Chuck Plunkett, fired a fusillade of public protest on Sunday — publishing six pages decrying the paper’s owner, to the social congratulations of the news world — we may have reached a new point in local American journalism’s descent into oblivion. Despite almost a decade of newsroom cuts, which have left no more 25,000 journalists in the more than 1,300 dailies across the country, journalists have been remarkably accepting of their buyouts and layoffs. We haven’t seen the kinds of mass strikes or work actions that have happened from time to time in Europe. We’ve seen instead an acquiescence to what’s been seen as the inevitable toll of digital disruption. Sadness, rather than spirited action, has marked the trade. That’s understandable, in part: No one wants to risk the lifeline Continue reading "Newsonomics: The Denver Post’s protest should launch a new era of “calling B.S.”"

10 Advantages That Small Publishers Have Over Tech Giants in Selling Ads


This post is by Kenny Katzgrau from MediaShift


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At scale, advertisers are dollars to be lured. Advertising technology supplies millions of ad impressions and targeting tools, but they leave the fundamental goals of an advertising campaign, notably success, to the advertiser. Is there anyone who truly cares about a small business advertiser, the primary client of local newspapers and magazines, at the scale of Facebook or Google? Any small publisher who survives on direct advertising sales has to consider the weaknesses in the model of their Silicon Valley competitors if they intend to continue to rely on an ad sales model. We hear every day that the “duopoly” is dominating in digital advertising revenue. This is true, but Google and Facebook are definitely not invincible, and recently eMarketer predicted their market share would drop this year. Small, niche publishers, like hyper-local news, regional magazines, and trade journals, have powerful advantages which cannot be replicated at scale, and they
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Big, If True


This post is by WNYC Studios from On the Media


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Cambridge Analytica claims that, with the help of 50 million Facebook users' data, it was able to target ads so specifically and so effectively that it helped swing the election for Donald Trump. The media have been more than happy to boost the claim, but many experts are skeptical. This week, a look at what exactly went on with Cambridge Analytica and whether we shouldn't be focusing more on Facebook. Plus, how social media works to undermine free will and what the future might hold for Facebook.
  1. Antonio García Martínez, columnist at WIRED and former tech entrepreneur, on Cambridge Analytica's "psychographic" techniques. Listen.
  2. Siva Vaidhyanathan, director of University of Virginia's Center for Media and Citizenship, on past regulatory efforts to reign in Facebook. Listen.

  3. Franklin Foer, staff writer at The Atlantic, on what he sees as Facebook's war on free will. Listen.

4. Clay Shirky Continue reading "Big, If True"

Advertisers no longer need publishers. Should publishers give up on them?


This post is by Laura Hazard Owen from Nieman Lab


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“What is the future of the relationship between publishers and advertisers? And how can platforms, news publishers, and advertisers ensure a robust future for news publishers by shaping the quality of advertising?” These questions are addressed in “The Future of Advertising and Publishing,” a report released Monday by Columbia’s Tow Center for Digital Journalism, the Digital Initiative at Harvard Business School, and the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics, and Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School. It sums up an event that took place back in October; we wrote up an afternoon panel that was open to the public, but the report released this week focuses on a closed, invite-only morning discussion. Some thoughts from the discussion: — In 2006, $49 billion in advertising went toward newspaper revenues in the United States, Tow’s Emily Bell writes in an introduction; “by 2016, the equivalent amount was Continue reading "Advertisers no longer need publishers. Should publishers give up on them?"

The Flight to Quality is on the Runway


This post is by Jeff Jarvis from BuzzMachine


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Sometimes, things need to get bad before they can get good. Such is the case, I fear, with content, conversation, and advertising on the net. But I see signs of progress.

First let’s be clear: No one — not platforms, not ad agencies and networks, not brands, not media companies, not government, not users — can stand back and say that disinformation, hate, and incivility are someone else’s problem to solve. We all bear responsibility. We all must help by bringing pressure and demanding quality; by collaborating to define what quality is; by fixing systems that enable manipulation and exploitation; and by contributing whatever resources we have (ad dollars to links to reporting bad actors).

Last May, I wrote about fueling a flight to quality. Coming up on a year later, here’s what I see happening:

Platforms:

Newsonomics: Will Michael Ferro double down on newspapers or go digital?


This post is by Ken Doctor from Nieman Lab


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Michael Ferro’s not done yet. He may have sold off his prized flagship Los Angeles Times — the cornerstone of his latest transformation strategy — but the publishing wheeler-dealer already has his top team consumed with finding new deals. That deal-making appears to be traveling on two tracks. One involves newspapers — their purchase and consolidation. The other lays rail for a digital-only content business expansion. And then, there’s the seemingly wild-eyed Ferro dream: buy Gannett, a company reeling again, its stock price down more than 10 percent Tuesday after announcing dismal fourth-quarter and full-year 2018 financials. One immediate Ferro goal: Deploy the cash that Tronc will gain when it closes the sale of the L.A. Times and San Diego Union-Tribune to Patrick Soon-Shiong. Tronc tells me the deal will finalize at the end of this quarter or the beginning of next. Some observers have looked at the incoming Continue reading "Newsonomics: Will Michael Ferro double down on newspapers or go digital?"

Google Chrome’s built-in ad blocker goes live tomorrow. Here’s how it will work for users (and affect publishers)


This post is by Ricardo Bilton from Nieman Lab


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Here’s something that will either scare or soothe anyone concerned with the future of digital advertising and the web: Starting tomorrow, Google, the largest advertising company in the world, will take an active role in deciding which ads people will see while using Chrome. On Thursday, Google plans to release a new Chrome update that will introduce a built-in ad blocker for the browser. The feature, whose existence was first reported last April, will automatically block ads that don’t conform to the Better Ads Standards from Coalition for Better Ads, as Chrome Web Platform product manager Ryan Schoen explained to TechCrunch. On desktop, these include popups, autoplay, sound-on videos, and “prestitial ads with countdown,” a format that, for most, has become synonymous with Forbes.com. The mobile version of Chrome will target those same ad formats, along with flashing animated ads, full-screen scrollover ads, and ads that take up
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Newsonomics: Can cross-subsidy (and nursing homes) help revive the Singapore Press?


This post is by Ken Doctor from Nieman Lab


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— Even virtual monopolies get the blues. Singapore Press Holdings — publisher of its flagship Straits Times — is confronting the worldwide downturn in newspaper business fortunes. The large daily (383,000 daily circulation, print and digital) and its well-regarded parent SPH saw some tough numbers last year: down 16.9 percent in ad revenue, 13 percent in overall revenue and five percent in circulation revenue for the fiscal year ending September 2017. Profits suffered as well, down 33 percent. And SPH, which still employs 1,200 journalists across its array of 11 newspapers in four languages, magazines, and radio stations, announced significant job cuts in October, with 230 positions cut. The globally oriented company now plans to fund an overseas correspondent staff of 40. None of those results is news to North American or European publishers, who have suffered similarly. Print business woes are universal across the developed
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The Real Cost of the ‘Free’ Internet


This post is by Jeremy Tillman from MediaShift


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The following piece is a guest post. Read more about MediaShift guest posts here. In the U.S., digital ad spend reached $72 billion in 2016, and with roughly nine out of ten American adults now connected to the internet, the typical U.S. internet user is worth around $250 per year to digital advertisers. Yes, you read that correctly. Digital advertisers are making approximately $250 annually – roughly twice the cost of a Netflix subscription – off you and your browsing data. This might be surprising to internet users, not only because it’s a lot of money (more than is spent on TV advertising), but also because digital advertisers make this money in large part by harvesting and selling your valuable personal information. In fact, personal data is taken from you each time you visit a website in order to target you with ads in exchange for
Continue reading "The Real Cost of the ‘Free’ Internet"

What’s Ahead for Media in 2018: AI, Blockchain and Billionaires vs. Journalism


This post is by Dorian Benkoil from MediaShift


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Click the image to read our entire series.

It’s time to ignore the warning that past results are no guarantee of future success, stick a wet finger into the cold winter wind and make some 2018 predictions. (Here my predictions for 2017, if you’d like to evaluate my previous performance.) This year, I’m predicting more uptake of AI and the blockchain for media, some business turmoil, and more battles with the duopoly (need we say who that is?).

AI Gets Real-er

In late 2017, it seemed that every media conference had a session about artificial intelligence, how it would boost media’s revenues, trustworthiness, curation and maybe even editorial capabilities. Ad-tech companies are leading the way already, they say, employing artificial intelligence and machine learning, neural networks, deep learning, natural language processing and other related technologies. In 2017, Google acquired at least two AI startups. Amazon and
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Newsonomics: 15 terms that summed up 2017 in news and news coverage


This post is by Ken Doctor from Nieman Lab


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This is the year America wishes it could take a shower long enough to wash away the scum of daily mud-slinging. Remember 2016? Last year, it seemed as if Tronc was the most memorable word of the news year, a new media name seemingly invented as self-parody. In 2017, the memorable words tumble onto the page. Let’s briefly catalog those that have pushed their way into our lexicon. Duopoly: Google and Facebook dominate the field of digital advertising — which is now the largest category of ad spending, surpassing TV in North America and the U.K. Google and Facebook have been taking almost 90 percent of all the digital ad growth in the market in the U.S. The remaining 10 percent or so is supposed to help support news media, as well as all other businesses dependent on advertising. The immense damage done to news media by the Continue reading "Newsonomics: 15 terms that summed up 2017 in news and news coverage"

‘Trust in News’ Study Shows More Trust for Print Publications Than Digital


This post is by Ian Gibbs from MediaShift


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Trust is the topic that won’t go away. On either side of the pond, leaders with very different temperaments are dealing with issues of declining trust in very different ways. Whatever their differences, however, the knock-on effect to mainstream media — tacitly held responsible for failing to fully represent shifting public sentiment when they aren’t being openly lambasted — has been profound. Or has it? A new global research study from Kantar entitled “Trust in News” has lifted the lid on attitudes to news media among 8,000 news consumers in the U.S., U.K., France and Brazil. Key findings of the study include:

When a Facebook test moves news stories to a separate feed, traffic — and public discourse — are at stake


This post is by Shan Wang from Nieman Lab


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It’s Facebook’s world; we just live in it. Facebook recently launched a test — and tests, for the platform over the years, are a dime a dozen — of a new and separate feed outside the main News Feed all its users see when they log on. Called Explore and marked with a rocketship icon, the section was the new home for a mix of posts from Facebook pages — meaning public figures, brands, and of course, news organizations found what they published to Facebook exiled there. This particular test, according to Facebook, is taking place only in Bolivia, Cambodia, Guatemala, Serbia, Slovakia, and Sri Lanka. The Want to get back into the regular feed? Facebook would be happy to let you — if you buy an ad. (Earlier iterations of Explore have been tested since this spring and originally focused on content from pages users hadn’t explicitly liked Continue reading "When a Facebook test moves news stories to a separate feed, traffic — and public discourse — are at stake"