Test it before you try it: Findings from the Engaging News Project’s homepage redesign study

This post is by Christine Schmidt from Nieman Lab

Click here to view on the original site: Original Post

A study comparing redesigns of homepages for news organizations in the United States and Canada found that contemporary designs with more images and less text resonate more with readers — but noted that experimenting with the redesign and doing before-and-after testing can reveal some helpful insights. The Engaging News Project, an initiative of the University of Texas Austin, followed an unnamed major U.S. news organization and a similarly unnamed major Canadian news organization as they revamped their sites’ homepages. In each case, “two concurrent studies occurred. The first was an online survey-based experiment and the second was a live test conducted by the news organization.” “Our results show that an online experiment can pick up on many of the same signals as a full launch of a site redesign,” Emily Van Duyn, a research associate for the Engaging News Project, said in a statement. “We believe
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That friends-and-family Facebook algorithm change doesn’t seem to be hurting traffic to news sites

This post is by Taylyn Washington-Harmon from Nieman Lab

Click here to view on the original site: Original Post

When Facebook announced in June that it was tweaking its News Feed algorithm — giving more weight to friends and family and less to publishers and brands — fear levels at news organizations were high. Editors stood watchful for any change in incoming Facebook traffic, ready to blame any drop on the platform. But more than a month in, the Facebookpocalpyse seems to have been averted. New data from analytics firm Parse.ly finds that Facebook traffic to its network of publishers has been flat or even slightly up since the June 29 announcement. There hasn’t been any noticable change after Facebook’s August 4 announcement it was clamping down on clickbait either, although it may be a little early to know the full impact of that change. parsely-facebook-traffic
Neither of the announcements have had a measurable traffic impact on digital publishers so far. At the time of publishing, it looks like
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Media Metrics Roundup for May 18, 2016

This post is by Alexandra Kanik from MediaShift

Click here to view on the original site: Original Post

Instagram’s Analytics Will Offer Audience Demographics, Post Impressions, Reach & More

( Sarah Perez / TechCrunch)
More info on the much anticipated Instagram analytics. In case you missed it, here’s a MediaShift article on using Instagram to measure success.

How The Washingtonian Grew Homepage Traffic by 18 Percent

(Lucia Moses / Digiday)
Maybe the homepage isn’t dead after all.

An Unintended Side Effect of Transparency

(Stephen Engelberg / ProPublica)
Tracking and sharing metrics helped ProPublica come to a pretty stark realization about one of their popular news apps.

Facebook’s Bias Is Built-In, and Bears Watching

(Farhad Manjoo / New York Times)
An interesting discussion on the power of algorithms and the responsibilities of the people behind them.

NPR’s guide to Facebook Live

What does and doesn’t work, according to NPR.


From MetricShift:

How to Learn About Your Customers Through Social Media by Jack Josephy DigitalEd: Beyond Pageviews: Continue reading "Media Metrics Roundup for May 18, 2016"

“Modern” homepage design increases pageviews and reader comprehension, study finds

This post is by Joseph Lichterman from Nieman Lab

Click here to view on the original site: Original Post

News sites with modular, image-heavy designs receive more pageviews and have stronger user engagement than sites with more staid, newspaper-inspired designs, according to a report released Tuesday by the Engaging News Project. Modern, modular homepages received at least 90 percent more unique pageviews than traditional sites did, the study found. Users viewing the modular homepage recalled details of the articles at least 50 percent more often than did those who viewed the classic homepage, according to the report. “The way in which you design your homepage can have a big effect,” said Talia Stroud, the director of the Engaging News Project and a professor at the University of Texas. Stroud and her co-authors — Alex Curry, Arielle Cardona, and Cynthia Peacock — created two fictional news sites with 20 evergreen news stories selected from actual publications. They ran three different studies that involved 2,671 participants, and in
Contemporary site
Classic site
suggestion box
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Bloomberg Business’ new look has made a splash — but don’t just call it a redesign

This post is by Caroline O'Donovan from Nieman Lab

Click here to view on the original site: Original Post

Bloomberg launched a fresh, new Bloomberg Business Tuesday night, to both acclaim and confusion. Change has long been afoot lately at Bloomberg Media, which hired Justin B. Smith away from Atlantic Media in 2013 and Josh Topolsky away from The Verge last July to help reconfigure the company’s digital presence. The new look — inspired in part by the boldness of Bloomberg Businessweek, the print magazine the company bought in 2009 — is fresh, colorful, and not a little bit dizzying. In a piece for VentureBeat called “Bloomberg Business’ new site design is beautifully bizarre — and it’s begging for haters,” Harrison Weber writes that the design “pulls you in as much as it spits in your eye. Yet, for some reason, I want more.” This sentiment was, meaningfully, echoed on Twitter.

NPR launches a new mobile site, bets on the scroll, and gets closer to being fully responsive

This post is by from Nieman Journalism Lab

Click here to view on the original site: Original Post

npr-mobile-site-screenshotIt must be mobile-news-site launch season. Last week it was The New York Times debuting a sleeker presence in smartphone browsers; today it’s NPR’s turn. It’s nice! (If maybe a touch on the staid side — it’s more Carl Kasell at the top of the hour than Carl Kasell reciting limericks.)

You can see the new look here and read about its features here. Three quick thoughts:

The rise of the scroll

Compare the new site to its predecessor and one thing becomes clear: Everyone’s becoming more comfortable with scrolling. The old mobile site only took up about two screenfuls on an iPhone; the new one, on first load, takes up 14. (That screenshot on the right is only about one quarter of the full mobile homepage.) And if that’s not enough, you can keep loading more stories in an infinite scroll.

It wasn’t that long ago that news companies were hesitant to put significant content “below the fold” — the old newspaper metaphor moved from newsprint to screenfuls. The BuzzFeeds and Snow Falls of the world have taught publishers to think of scrolling less as a hindrance and more as a useful, tactile part of the content consumption experience.

For a long time, mobile content experiences were built around the idea of restraint — slow bandwidth and less powerful processors, yes, but mostly the constraint of user time. “Mobile” became shorthand for “30 seconds of attention while you’re waiting in line somewhere.”

But as devices and networks improve — and, more importantly, mobile moves from being an edge case to just how people get the Internet — publishers are getting more comfortable with offering a less abbreviated experience on phones. We’re getting closer to content parity. NPR’s intro blog post also notes:

Visitors entering our site through the mobile homepage will now have access to story comments, advanced searching and extended NPR listening opportunities, such as NPR Music’s First Listen series.

That makes sense — the more people use smartphones as their primary Internet device, the more they’re going to want to do things like leave comments — things that might have previously been considered something they’d go their laptop to do.

The move to responsive

Despite the web design world’s headlong push into responsive design, NPR (like the Times) isn’t quite there yet. Like the Times’ new mobile site, the NPR site’s homepage does adjust based on device width, but only from tablet to smartphone sizes — the desktop site is still separate. (Play with the width slider here to see how it reflows at lower device sizes.)

However, unlike the Times, NPR’s article pages — where the vast majority of its traffic lies, one assumes — are fully responsive. (Again, check it out. iPads get the smallest version of the desktop layout; anything smaller gets the smartphone view. Reduce the pixel width from 768 to 767 to see what I mean.) The Times still uses separate m.nyt.com URLs on mobile stories.

The URL of the mobile homepage doesn’t sell it’s mobile-ness: Rather than npr.org/mobile or mobile.npr.org, it’s npr.org/home. That interesting (lack of) distinction is explained by this note in the intro post:

What’s next: This new homepage for phone-size screens is the first step in creating a fully responsive NPR front page that will work for people using a wide range of devices, from phones to tablets to desktops. Stay tuned.

That makes sense — the desktop NPR homepage is one the last relics of the old look; the mobile homepage looks much more like the recently redesigned article pages than the desktop does. Here’s NPR Digital senior project manager Patrick Cooper:

Homepages, with their myriad modules and ad units, are a much harder job, responsively speaking, than article pages, which usually can be reflowed into a smooth column of text without too much difficulty.

The question of ads

One thing I didn’t see anywhere in the new mobile site: ads. (Maybe they’re there somewhere, but I didn’t see any on the couple dozen pages I checked out.) Ads appear on responsive pages only when they’re on screens 1000px wide or wider — below that size, they disappear. (See what I mean here by dropping the width slider.) Ads in responsive design are problematic, just as ads on mobile devices in general are problematic. But it’s an issue that NPR — like other news organizations — will have to figure out if they want to benefit from the (massive, irrevocable) shift to mobile devices.

Who did all this work? Some credits in this tweet:

Big Media Loves Promoted Trends, Twitter’s Big-Dollar Digital Billboards

This post is by from AllThingsD » Peter Kafka

Click here to view on the original site: Original Post

twitter billboard cannesTwitter has been building up its ad business for three years, but early on it figured out that it had a hit with “Promoted Trends.” That’s the ad unit that lets a brand occupy the top spot on Twitter’s “Trends” list for a day; Twitter recently started asking $200,000 a day for the privilege.

In retrospect, it’s easy to see why this works — while “Promoted Tweets,” the format the company describes as its “atomic unit” of its ad business, requires a lot of testing and experimentation, buying a trend for the day is a familiar concept for ad buyers.

Anyone who logs on to Twitter for the day will see the promotion, which makes it roughly similar to a homepage takeover on Yahoo or YouTube – it’s a digital billboard.

So who’s buying?

A one-month survey, conducted by CNBC social media strategist Eli Langer, offers some clues. By Langer’s count, Twitter sold 26 promoted trends in the U.S. in the last 32 days — at rate-card prices, that $5.2 million, plus whatever the advertisers paid for in promoted tweets to support the campaign (bear in mind that Twitter sells trends in many other territories worldwide).

Nearly half of those came from Big Media companies pushing movies and TV shows; another chunk came from food-and-beverage marketers.

Thursday (3/7): No Promoted Trend
Friday (3/8): #TheNextBigThing (Samsung)
Saturday (3/9): No Promoted Trend
Sunday (3/10): #TheBible (History Channel)
Monday (3/11): #FeedTheBeat (Taco Bell)
Tuesday (3/12): No Promoted Trend
Wednesday (3/13): #BurtWonderstone (Warner Brothers)
Thursday (3/14) #501s (Levi’s)
Friday (3/15) #TheCallMovie (Sony Pictures)
Saturday (3/16) #3dollarsub (Subway)
Sunday (3/17) No Promoted Trend
Monday (3/18) #BatesMotel (A&E)
Tuesday (3/19) #TheHobbit (The Hobbit Movie)
Wednesday (3/20) #HotNSpicy (McDonald’s)
Thursday (3/21) #BracketBusters (University of Phoenix)
Friday (3/20) #NickyFlash (AT&T)
Saturday (3/23) #RallyCry (Capital One)
Sunday (3/24) No Promoted Trend
Monday (3/25) #Blackberry10 (Blackberry)
Tuesday (3/26) #ItsNotComplicated (AT&T)
Wednesday (3/27) #NYIAS (Toyota)
Thursday (3/28) #TheHost (Twilight Movie)
Friday (3/29) #GiJoeRetaliation (Possibly a few production companies via The Rock’s Twitter account)
Saturday (3/30) #OrphanBlack (BBC America)
Sunday (3/31) #TheWalkingDead (AMC)
Monday (4/1) #AprilFools (Jockey )
Tuesday (4/2) #twEATfor1K (Wendys)
Wednesday (4/3) #BoBSantigoldLive (Vitamin Water)
Thursday (4/4) No Promoted Trend
Friday (4/5) #EvilDead (Sony)
Saturday (4/6) #FinalFour (Capital One)
Sunday (4/7) #MadMen (AMC)

This Week in Review: Negotiating the press’s presidential access, and does Yahoo’s redesign matter?

This post is by from Nieman Journalism Lab

Click here to view on the original site: Original Post

Power, the president, and the press: The political press’s frustrations with their treatment by President Obama became a lot more public this week, after Fox News’ Ed Henry issued a statement on behalf of the White House Correspondents Association complaining that no reporters got access to Obama’s golfing trip last weekend. Henry clarified the next day that the complaint wasn’t about golf specifically, but about the broader principle of transparency and access.

Politico’s Jim VandeHei and Mike Allen then published a long piece detailing Obama’s efforts at “limiting, shaping and manipulating” the press’s coverage of him, largely by limiting press access and releasing plenty of information directly to the public instead. The reaction was quick and critical — not of Obama, but of the Washington press corps. The gentlest critique came from former White House reporter Matthew Cooper at The Atlantic, who noted that the White House press has always complained about the press tactics of whichever administration is in office, adding that the access they’re losing isn’t that crucial anyway.

Mother Jones’ Kevin Drum was perplexed at journalists’ anger over Obama’s releasing information directly to the public, writing, ”why is this a problem? It’s 2013, guys. Why shouldn’t a president communicate with the public using whatever mediums the public happens to consume?” Gawker’s Tom Scocca argued that if Obama weren’t managing the press so thoroughly, the press would criticize him for that, too. Gawker editor John Cook (via Greg Mitchell) pointed out that Allen’s questions the last time he got full access to President Bush weren’t exactly hard-hitting.

The Washington Post’s Erik Wemple broke down the golf grievance and noted the theme of powerlessness in the press’s clashes with the president: “It’s all another way of saying that the White House is obligated to do essentially whatever it pleases when it comes to media access.” The American Prospect’s Paul Waldman also emphasized the White House’s structural power over the press corps, describing the White House press as working “in a gilded cage.” And The Post’s Carter Eskew proposed that the press fight back against that equality by sending interns or using pool feeds to cover staged White House events, refusing to be used by the president.


A quixotic redesign?: Seven months after former Google exec Marissa Mayer came on as Yahoo’s CEO, she unveiled her first significant change — a redesign of the site’s homepage. As The New York Times explained, the new design does away with low-quality ads and focuses on its most popular properties, rather than trying to jam everything onto the page. It also includes a Twitter-like news feed and a stream of content recommendation from friends. Bloomberg went deeper into the rationale behind that news feed and the integral role sharing is playing in the company’s strategy.

The initial reviews were mixed. Wired’s Mat Honan was impressed with the news feed, particularly its personalization. “For a company that developed a reputation for moribund products, the re-engineered newsfeed is one of the smarter news delivery systems in recent memory,” he said. Others, such as CNET’s Dan Farber and GigaOM’s Mathew Ingram, said the redesign was superficial change that wasn’t going to alter much of significance. Ingram likened it to “adding a new coat of paint and some racing stripes to your old Chevy.”

Quartz’s Christopher Mims argued that homepages just don’t matter anymore, because browsing has changed from the days when Yahoo ruled the web. (As he pointed out, Mims’ own site has no real homepage.) Others pushed back against that idea: ReadWrite’s Taylor Hatmaker said Yahoo’s homepage still draws in loads of traffic, and Sarah Lacy of PandoDaily said the crucial importance of every inch of space on Yahoo’s homepage is what makes Mayer’s overhaul so important — and what makes it so sad, because it’s taken all her might just to catch up to what everyone else has been doing for a while now. “Even making Yahoo current is a monumental task, but still one that solves nothing at the end of the day,” she wrote.

The Times tries to unload the Globe: The New York Times Co. announced this week that it’s planning to sell The Boston Globe, which it bought in 1993. As the Globe reported, the Times also tried to sell the Globe in 2009 after first threatening to shut down. Since then, it’s sold its other newspapers, its stake in the Boston Red Sox, and About.com, as it attempts to narrow its focus to its core newspaper. Bloomberg also noted that where the Times has tried (with a good deal of success) to shift its revenue toward circulation, the Globe still makes most of its money from advertisers.

The Lab’s Ken Doctor had the most thorough breakdown of the situation, listing the Globe’s strengths (strong leadership, paid digital content innovation, big newsroom) and weaknesses (dropping revenue, entanglement with the Times). He saw the Times Co.’s sale as the final step of seizing the global opportunity that the Times has become. Ryan Chittum of the Columbia Journalism Review saw an additional significance: “By putting the New England group up for sale, the Times is drawing a bright line between the prospects it sees for a national paper and for regional papers.” Chittum put some of the blame on the Globe’s two-site paywall design, which its editor told Poynter’s Andrew Beaujon it would try to untangle.

Both Poynter’s Rick Edmonds (in an Andrew Beaujon post) and Northeastern j-prof Dan Kennedy (in addition to Doctor) brought up Aaron Kushner as a potential buyer. Kushner attempted to buy the Globe the last time around and later bought the Orange County Register, for which, as Kennedy noted, he’s drawn some attention for a counterintuitive approach built around print.

Hacking on several fronts: There were several developments in the ongoing hacks against American companies this week: Two weeks after Twitter announced that it had been hacked, Facebook said it, too, had been hit by a sophisticated attack. Then, a few days later, Apple said some of its employees’ computers had been infected with the same malware that infiltrated Twitter and Facebook’s systems, reportedly by hackers who may have been looking for access to apps on Apple smartphones (unsuccessfully, thus far). All Things D’s Mike Isaac found the site that had been the source of the malware.

Meanwhile, The New York Times reported on a new study that reveals the identity and location of the Chinese group that is carrying out hacking attacks against numerous other American companies (not including the attacks on The Times — those are believed to be by a different Chinese group). The group was reported to be a military unit, though the U.S. government won’t formally tie it to the Chinese military for diplomatic reasons. The Chinese government denied the report, while All Things D’s Arik Hesseldahl and ReadWrite’s Dan Lyons both looked at the political and practical realities of this relentless Chinese hacking.

Reading roundup: A few other stories to catch up on this week:

— An update to last week’s Tesla-New York Times snafu: Times public editor Margaret Sullivan issued her ruling, with censure for both the Times’ John Broder and Tesla’s Elon Musk. CNN and a group of Tesla owners recreated the Times’ trip to show it could be done, and several commentators weighed in with thoughtful takes — The Tow Center’s Taylor Owen on the importance of trust and context with data, Dave Winer on handling public integrity in journalism, PandoDaily’s Hamish McKenzie on wielding data like a hammer, and paidContent’s Mathew Ingram on the shift in the media balance of power.

— The popular conservative rumor that Secretary of Defense nominee Chuck Hagel gave a speech to a nonexistent “Friends of Hamas” group was revealed as false, as New York Daily News reporter Dan Friedman explained how he accidentally started it, and Breitbart’s Ben Shapiro, who first reported it, insisted that the story as he reported it was correct. The Washington Post’s Erik Wemple asked a few critical questions about the episode, and The Daily Beast’s Ali Gharib chastised Shapiro for not doing any actual journalism. The Atlantic’s Conor Friedersdorf and The New Yorker’s Alex Koppelman both called for more self-criticism on the part of the conservative media, but Wemple countered that this screwup was just abnormally bad.

— Twitter introduced an advertising API, which lets its advertisers (just a handful at launch) to allow adverisers to manage their own ads within the platform. Ad Age explained what it means for advertisers, and PandoDaily looked at the implications for other social networks.

— Reuters reported that the tech blog All Things D and its owner, News Corp., are considering parting ways at the end of the year. In an insightful post, j-prof Jay Rosen took the opportunity to list some of the shifts in power in contemporary journalism.

— Three final recommended pieces on online media: Reuters’ Felix Salmon on the economics of online advertising and media use, The Financial Times’ Robert Cottrell on what makes for valuable blogging and how to capitalize on it, and French digital media exec Frederic Filloux on the need for a rethink on how newspapers are written in the digital era.

Photos of the White House Press Briefing Room by Jennifer Boyer, Marissa Mayer by J.D. Lasica, and a Globe box by Wayne Marshall all used under a Creative Commons license.

Twitter’s Newest Homepage Goes Tweetless

This post is by from MediaMemo

Click here to view on the original site: Original Post

Twitter is rolling out a new homepage design, which is pretty much standard operating procedure for the service. See, for instance, last year’s homepage redesign. Or the one that came a year before that.

All of the overhauls are aimed at explaining the service to new users. And in the past, Twitter has tried to do that by showing off examples of what it actually does.

No more. Instead of displaying sample Tweets, or trending topics, the new page simply invites users to “Follow your interests: Instant updates from your friends, industry experts, favorite celebrities, and what’s happening around the world,” followed by a search box.

This is a simple switch, but the symbolism seems important for the service, which is still trying to make itself relevant to the mainstream: There’s no point in showing new users Tweets about people and topics they don’t care about.

This is presumably part of what new/old product head Jack Dorsey was talking about last week, when he discussed Twitter’s need to create “better lines around the products, so it’s more approachable, so that people can get into it immediately, and it’s extremely relevant right away.”

Here’s the new home page that some users are seeing (via Mashable):

And the old one:

And, for old time’s sake, the one before that:

And the one before that:

Read All About It! But Don’t Watch–The Grammys Tune Out Online

This post is by from MediaMemo

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I didn’t watch a second of last night’s Grammy Awards, but I’m pretty sure I caught all of it, anyway.

My Twitterstream was dominated by snarky play-by-play, and the rest of the Web was doing the same thing. Even the New York Times and The Wall Street Journal put Grammy liveblogs on their homepages.

So now it might be nice to head online and actually see–and hear–what I missed. No dice.

The official Grammy site, run by the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences, has plenty of clips, but none from the CBS broadcast itself–it’s all backstage, or red carpet or other footage I don’t care about. CBS.com doesn’t have anything, and neither does TV.com, CBS’s mini-Hulu.

Meanwhile, Google’s YouTube, the place where I really expect to see clips, is doing a very good/frustrating job of keeping the site scrubbed free of amateur uploads. You can find some stuff, but it takes work, and the quality is poor, and I’m pretty sure it’s getting removed quickly after it goes up.

So while I really want to see Arcade Fire’s performance–my Twitter pals were ecstatic about it–right now the only thing I can find is grainy footage of  Lady Gaga doing yet another Madonna…homage. This may or may not be available by the time you read this:

[UPDATE: Ask, and you shall receive! For now. Thanks to @colinparksfried, @tdotjdot and @nolaschott]

A CBS rep notes that Grammy performances “aren’t typically available online due to rights clearance issues,” and I’m sure that’s true. Any given song can have lots of different owners, and getting all of them to agree to put it on the Web can be a huge hassle. On the other hand, it’s not an insurmountable challenge–that’s why we have Vevo.com, a Web site dedicated to nothing but music videos.

Left unsaid here is that big live events like the Grammys are now TV’s most valuable commodity, and the people who produce big live events continue to struggle with the Web. But more and more of them are getting it–even the very uptight NFL is putting highlight videos up on its site while the games are in progress.

The Grammys are already being augmented very nicely by the Web, which provided it with endless free promotion last night. But now that the live event isn’t anymore, you’d think the music industry, which can use all the promotion it could get, would be pushing very, very hard to let people see what they missed last night.

Who knows. It might even prompt someone to, you know, buy some music.

Chartbeat Says the Rise of the Machines Won’t Be So Bad if You’re a Cyborg

This post is by from MediaMemo

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Tony Haile has a vision of the future, and it involves turning people like me into cyborgs.

And Haile thinks this is a good thing! It’s part of his pitch for Chartbeat, a Web analytics start-up: He says that very soon “content producers” like yours truly are going to be faced with the choice of becoming robots–that is, replaced with algorithms and machines–or sticking around and injecting ourselves with big helpings of technology and data.

Chartbeat is supposed to help people like me with the cyborg route, by providing real-time information about the way the stuff I make performs on the Web: How many people are looking at a given story, where they’re coming from, how long they’re staying, etc.

Until now, most of Chartbeat’s 3,000 customers have handed that information over to managers and editors. But now Haile is rolling out Newsbeat, a tweaked version of the service that’s supposed to be delivered directly to rank-and-file stuff-makers like me. He’s been working with Web publishers like Gawker Media, Fast Company and Time Warner’s Time Inc. to get the rollout ready.

I’m not entirely opposed to my coming transformation, by the way: Unlike some of my peers–and these tend to be older peers–I like the idea of knowing more about the way people consume the stuff I make.

And it’s inevitable, anyway. On the Web, it’s impossible not to be exposed to performance data. The only question is what kind of data, and how much.

But still. I don’t know exactly what I’m supposed to do with all of this data. The version of Chartbeat that All Things D already uses gives me plenty of personalized information about my stories, and it’s narcotizing to sit around and watch my numbers flick up and down all day.

And if I were running a very big Web site, like, say, the Wall Street Journal, which also uses Chartbeat (and, like this site, is owned by News Corp.), I could put some of that data to work. I could figure out which stories I might want to highlight on the homepage, and try to analyze why others aren’t performing as well as they could, etc.

But from my worm’s-eye view, I don’t know what I’m really supposed to make of my Chartbeat report. Chartbeat tells me that my scooplet this morning on Rock Band is doing well, which is gratifying. But I could also get that information, with a longer delay, via services like Adobe’s Omniture or Google Analytics.

And in any case, then what? That information can’t help me make more scoops, or more interesting stories. And in the end, I’m pretty sure that’s the only way I can I do a better job.

Haile disagrees, of course. So let’s let him make his own case in this interview, which we conducted in the semi-busy hallway outside his office yesterday.

[ See post to watch video ]

Going, Going: LimeWire Shutters Online Store, Too

This post is by from MediaMemo

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LimeWire, the high-profile file-sharing company, more or less shut down in October, following a federal court ruling. But there are bits and pieces of the company still up and running.

Not for much longer, it seems. The company is also closing its online music store at the end of the year. And I’m told that it has essentially abandoned efforts to launch a new, legal music service that it had spent much of the past year building.

A sign on the Web retailer’s homepage tells customers that it’s no longer accepting new payments, and the company has told vendors via email that the store will shutter on Dec. 31. (You can see a copy of the note at the bottom of this post.)

LimeWire hasn’t responded to my request for comment. And it’s not clear why the company is closing up the shop, because in this case, LimeWire shouldn’t be dealing with any legal issues. LimeWire operated the store the same way that Apple’s iTunes does–it took product that music labels (not the big ones, but small independents) wanted to sell and delivered it to customers.

Meanwhile, people familiar with the company tell me that it has also stopped pursuing plans to launch a new, legal music service that had been building throughout 2010.

As recently as October, the company had been talking up the prospects of the new service, and had invited me to see a preview of it even after the court ruling that shuttered its illegal file-sharing service. But LimeWire later rescinded the invitation, and said that its lawyers had advised it not to discuss the new service.

My hunch is that LimeWire is stripping down all of its remaining assets in advance of January court proceedings. Those are going to determine how much the company owes the major music labels that successfully sued it for copyright violations.

LimeWire had already laid off at least 30 percent of its workforce following the October court ruling.

Newsweek Isn’t Dead, Is Facing a Zombie Attack

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Times are tough at Newsweek, but the magazine’s Web site is keeping things lively.

There is the site’s (deservedly) much discussed Tumblr, of course. And yesterday, up popped this bit of weirdness: For some reason, entering the “Konami Code” on your keyboard–up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, B, A, enter–turns the site’s homepage into, um, something else (click images to enlarge).

And it goes on in that vein for a while:

No idea who or what is behind this. But I do like it quite a bit.

The aforementioned Newsweek Tumblr tells us that “we just want you all to know that this isn’t some sort of commentary on our current ownerless limbo.” So that means…what?

Newsweek isn’t the first big media site to feature an inscrutable Konami Code hack/tweak/Easter Egg. ESPN’s flagship site had a particularly colorful one last year.

For those of a certain age and/or those of you with a life, see Wikipedia’s Konami Code page. Alas, in true Wikipedia fashion, it explains the what, but not the why. Can anyone else try?

Exclusive: Twitter’s Next Moneymaker–"Promoted Trends"

This post is by from MediaMemo

Click here to view on the original site: Original Post

UPDATE: The new ad unit is now up and running (via Jason Calacanis).
Twitter is beginning to roll out its ad platform, which allows advertisers to insert messages into users’ streams. But the microblogging service already has an idea for a new product: Selling some of the real estate dedicated to its “trending” feature, where it highlights topics Twitter users are chattering about.

Twitter is describing the product to advertisers as “Promoted Trends,” an extension of the “Promoted Tweets” program announced in April. The messaging service has been talking about it in vague terms and has yet to test it.

But the basic gist seems to be this: Advertisers will be able to insert their own terms into the list of trends Twitter displays on users’ homepages (see image below; click to enlarge) and on its login page. Clicking on a term would call up a Twitter search results page, which would feature the associated advertiser’s “promoted tweet” at the top of the results.

Advertisers who have heard Twitter talk about the product say the service imagines charging “tens of thousands of dollars” a day for exclusive placement rights.

If Twitter moves forward with the plan, it’s going to need to iron out some details: For instance, will every one of Twitter’s 190 million users see the same promoted trend? Or will the service figure out how to filter them?

Just as important: Can Twitter ensure that its trending topics aren’t cluttered with spam? The service has been trying to tackle this by tweaking the algorithm it uses to generate trending topics, which is why there’s a lot less Justin Bieber in its results than there used to be. But it can still stand some work–can anyone tell me what “CALA BOCA GALAVO” is, and why I should care?

In any case, it’s early. Here’s Twitter’s position, conveyed via PR boss Sean Garrett:

As we have always said, we plan to test different advertising and promotional models in these early stages of our monetization efforts for both user and brand value. As part of this effort, we will likely test trends clearly marked as “promoted” for an undefined period of time. Assuming that we do, during this test, there will only be one visible at a time.

All of this makes plenty of sense. Twitter spent a long time trying not to become a media company, but it is certainly headed that way now: Twitter attracts users’ attention with content and then rents out access to those users’ eyeballs. So if you’re going with that model, no reason not to go all the way.

Google’s Extreme Makeover: Homepage Edition

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Bored out of your skull? Google has a solution: Kill a few seconds by redecorating the search giant’s homepage.

Don’t know why you’d want to, but you can now personalize Google’s famously austere search page with your own image. To make sure you understand the idea, Google (GOOG) is demoing it right now.

Too busy to verify? No problem. Here you go:

Google says this allows you to “make search more of your own.” But as Dan Frommer and other professional Web content producers note, it looks an awful lot like an homage to Microsoft’s (MSFT) Bing.

Techmeme’s Gabe Rivera takes the next logical step:

Truth in Advertising: What “iPad Ready” Really Means

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Dan Rayburn, the cantankerous and clever Web video analyst, has today’s iPad “gotcha”: Many of the sites Apple claims are “iPad ready,” i.e., they work without the use of Adobe’s (ADBE) Flash, are only “iPad ready” in a limited way.

From Rayburn’s Businessofvideo.com:

While videos on the home page work or featured content works, many times when you go a layer down, you can’t get the content. For instance, on the New York Times site, all it takes is clicking on a few links to get blank pages that tell you, “In order to view this feature, you must download the latest version of flash player here”. What? According to Apple, I thought the New York Times site was “iPad ready”. No, Apple wants you to believe it is, but when a lot of the content I am trying to view on the New York Times tells me to download Flash, that’s not my idea of “iPad ready”… “Some” content on these sites works on the iPad, but to imply the “site” is iPad ready is a flat out lie.

To be fair, Apple (AAPL) doesn’t claim that every element of the “iPad ready” sites it highlights will work. As I noted last week:

Check out the description Apple uses for each of the sites it calls out and you’ll see that “iPad-compatible” doesn’t mean “completely free of Flash.”

In many cases, Apple can’t say that all of the sites’ videos will play on the gadget. Just “most” videos, or “recently published” ones.

And, in fact, I noted last month that some sites being designed specifically for the iPad (including The Wall Street Journal, which like this site, is owned by News Corp.) were primarily designed to work on the homepage.

The truth is that most publications had to scramble hard to prep their iPad sites in time for last weekend’s launch–and the big ad dollars that accompanied it–but weren’t able to get to everything.

Disclosure: I’m moderating a panel for Rayburn’s Streaming Media East conference next month.

Time Warner Gets the iPad Seal of Approval

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Many Web publishers are scrambling to make some or all of their sites “iPad ready,” which basically means stripping their homepages of Adobe’s (ADBE) Flash. Some, but not all, are being rewarded with a shout-out from Apple, via a page that identifies “iPad Ready” sites.

Here’s the list of publishers Apple (AAPL) says “deliver content that looks and functions beautifully on iPad”:

New York Times
Major League Baseball
The White House
Virgin America
Sports Illustrated

Apple acknowledges that this isn’t a complete list of iPad-compatible sites–both NPR and The Wall Street Journal, for instance, are overhauling their pages for the gadget–and it’s unclear whether Apple has any criteria for calling out these sites in particular. (For the record, I’m told that All Things Digital should work just fine, too).

But for whatever reason, the list appears to be particularly heavy on sites owned by Time Warner (TWX). CNN makes the cut, as do Time Inc. magazines Time, People and Sports Illustrated.

One other note: Check out the description Apple uses for each of the sites it calls out and you’ll see that “iPad-compatible” doesn’t mean “completely free of Flash.”

In many cases, Apple can’t say that all of the sites’ videos will play on the gadget. Just “most” videos, or “recently published” ones.