Archive for the ‘Publishing’ Category

Does audience size matter?

Monday, December 31st, 2007

I have been thinking about this post from Robert Scoble since I read it yesterday. (Go read it now.) In the post, Scoble makes three pretty strong points:

First,

“In the past few years I’ve had some success building audiences, but I found that that’s not really what’s important. It’s not what advertisers REALLY care about.”

He goes on to ask “What do they really care about?” and answers his own question by saying that advertisers care about content: that you get content that no one else does, that it causes conversations to happen, that your content gets noticed in the niche that you’re covering, and that it gets the most authoritative links back to it.

His second point:

“It’s not the size of your audience that matters. It’s WHO is in the audience that matters.”

And his third point:

“I never talk…about how large my audience will be. No, instead, we’re talking about who we want on the show for the first week. How can we make the quality better? Who is out there who is doing innovative stuff that we can learn from?…How can we take our art further? How come bloggers never obsess about THAT?”

There is a lot going on in this article, but first and foremost I have to disagree that advertisers don’t care about audience size. All you have to do is look at how advertising is sold online to know that they do, in fact, care very much about audience size. CPM (cost per thousand) is the standard measurement for online media sales. Just check out the advertising pages for CNET or PCMag.com  or CMP (all technology publishing companies). What is the first statistic that’s listed? Unique visitors per month. Second statistic? Unique page views per month.

Having worked for both Ziff Davis and IDG, two of the biggest technology publishers in the world, I know that when technology marketers are buying online advertising packages, the easiest question to ask – and the first one out of their mouths – is size of audience. They always want to know traffic stats and reach. In that market, advertisers do care about how big the audience is. And I think that this is only magnified in the consumer markets (with audiences like the one that Perez Hilton reaches), where there is no way to measure audience except by size.

And (this is still hard for me to swallow even though I’ve believed it for a long time), most advertisers do NOT care about how good the content is. I am just being honest here. Most technology marketers and advertisers do not pay attention to the content, or know how good or not good it is in and of itself. Instead, they measure content “goodness” quantitatively – by how big the audience is that is reading the content, and by who that audience is.

Which leads me to the part of Scoble’s article in which he was dead on accurate – advertisers do care about how targeted the audience is, WHO is in the audience. I believe that this is actually the statistic that matters the most to online advertisers.

Take another look at those advertising pages that I linked to earlier. There are some pretty strong arguments made by the publications that they have the specific audiences that advertisers are looking for. I believe that this trend of advertisers trying to reach the specific individual – with the right title, job function, industry and size of company – instead of reaching just a whole lot of people and hoping that the message has an impact, will continue. This desire to reach the RIGHT audience is why new models of online advertising are emerging, such as lead generation, in which a company will pay $100 PER LEAD as long as they are targeting the right person with their message. Scoble is reaching the audience that his advertisers want to reach – so the size of his audience isn’t as important. And this is why sites like Perez Hilton, which have to rely on audience size (because they are reaching a disparate consumer market) are going to have a hard time selling advertising by any measurement except audience size.

As far as content is concerned, I have already made the point that I don’t believe that advertisers care as much about quality content as Scoble claims that they do. I wish that they did, but I’ve been in this industry long enough to realize that they really just don’t. They like the latest and greatest thing – because it’s good for their brand to be associated with that innovative content – but advertisers aren’t content specialists and just really don’t have a good understanding of quality content.

HOWEVER – and this is a really big however – I think that Scoble is writing from the perspective of a content producer, not an advertiser. And his point is RIGHT ON that content producers MUST CARE MORE about their content than their audience size. Because without good, innovative, cutting-edge content, content producers will never draw the type of audience that they need to get advertisers. Scoble says that the right question is “how can we take our art further?” And I agree that is the right question for a content producer.

Webby's 12 most influential online videos of all time

Tuesday, November 27th, 2007

Webby Awards logoI just saw a pointer to this over at Boing Boing. The Webby Awards site has posted a list of the 12 most influential online videos of all time. Included are classics such as 2000’s All Your Base Are Belong To Us and JibJab’s “This Land” (Chris made me watch this one more than once). Enjoy!

Americas about to fall behind in information industry

Tuesday, November 13th, 2007

Outsell LogoIf you haven’t caught the hint yet, there is more news today that the global market is gaining in importance. According to a press release from Outsell, the information industry revenue that is generated in Asia, Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) is ready to overtake North, South and Central American revenues within one to two years. And things are already heading that way. Currently, American information industry revenues are 53% of the worldwide total, with EMEA and Asia at 47%.

The other bit of information, which was buried in the middle of the release, is that during a presentation today on “The Global Industry Outlook” at Outsell’s Signature Event, Chief Analyst Leigh Watson Healy offered up Outsell’s 10 predictions for the information industry in 2008. One of note: the firm expects the next evolution of the Internet experience to be Web 3D.

Whenever a company makes a prediction, I like to see how they did with their past prophesies. If you’re interested, Outsell’s 2007 predictions are available in a free report. Some of what they suggested would happen this year has happened, but one item in particular seems to be a false reading on the market: “Google, Yahoo, MSN, publishers, advertisers and auditors will establish standardized third-party audit and certification processes to validate clicks and battle click fraud.”

So far, this hasn’t happened – but there is still a little more than a month to go before we ring in 2008.

KnowledgeStorm acquired by TechTarget

Thursday, November 8th, 2007

TechTarget logoKnowledgeStorm logo
This would have been huge news in my previous life working for Ziff Davis. It will be interesting to see how this changes the IT lead generation industry. With KnowledgeStorm and Bitpipe (TechTarget’s lead gen engine) teaming up, this leaves four major players: the Web Buyer’s Guide (Ziff Davis), IDG Connect, BNET (from CNET) and the KnowledgeStorm/Bitpipe combo.

Prior to this acquisition, KnowledgeStorm was really the only independent IT lead generation option – all the others are tied to a known IT publisher with a large audience. I’m not sure how TechTarget plans to combine the services, but each has something to offer – Bitpipe has the audience and reach, and KnowledgeStorm has an existing client base and superior technology. It will be interesting to see how this shapes up.

Growth is the reason that the Internet is slowly killing print

Monday, October 8th, 2007

Internet advertising for the first half of 2007 hit $10 billion – up 27% from the same period last year, according to a recent Internet Advertising Revenue Report released by the IAB.

 Even though the various types of Internet advertising still make up only a small percentage of the overall ad industry (about 9.5%), the growth of Internet advertising is predicted to be 85% between 2006 and 2009. 85%!!! That is a huge amount of growth.

And growth is the reason that online advertising is having such a negative impact on print. Business is always moving toward areas of growth and away from stagnant, declining markets. You can see this trend clearly if you look at IT and business magazines. Print publications in this market are shutting their doors. Business 2.0 just closed. InfoWorld announced earlier this year that it would move to online-only, saying, “Frankly, the editorial staff foresaw the demise of print from a long way off and began making preparations for that inevitable day.” 

Things are shifting and the print world is going to have to adjust, the faster the better.

 

~ Today’s view: http://www.flickr.com/photos/13799608@N08/1517785063/

Bye, bye Business 2.0

Friday, October 5th, 2007


Business 2.0 final coverI’m at Logan Airport in Boston, heading out on a weekend trip to visit my friends in Baltimore, and I just ran across the final issue of Business 2.0 and had to buy it. Reading the final issue of this magazine is going to be like saying good-bye to an old friend for me. I can’t say that I read every issue since the magazine launched almost a decade ago, but I was a subscriber for years, particularly during my time at executive editor of Publish magazine when I would read every issue from cover-to-cover and stick post-it notes to its pages when an article gave me inspiration for a story. (That happened often!) During those days, Business 2.0 and The Industry Standard were the print publications to beat. The boom was, well, booming and marketing dollars were flowing toward both of these publications – it was not uncommon for a single issue to have up to 600 pages. At the time, if even the shadow of Business 2.0 fell upon you, you were blessed. So we transitioned the audience of Publish magazine from “graphic designers” to “Internet communication professionals” to try to share a tiny bit of the space. The magazine continued to inspire media ventures through its years, including Michael Arrington’s, who writes, “The story style and content was a big inspiration for starting TechCrunch, even though we are a poor imitation and rarely do it justice.”
I could not have put it better. I have a tremendous amount of respect for that publication and really fond memories of those days before I moved full time to the Internet. So long, Business 2.0. I’m sad to see you go.

(As an aside, I just visited the old Web site for The Industry Standard, and on that site there’s a note that says “Coming back…The Industry Standard”)

The death of domain name speculation

Thursday, September 20th, 2007

There will be a point when domain name speculation as we know it will end. In its wake will remain a number of big guys – the folks like Kevin Ham and Frank Schilling who today own multi-million dollar domain portfolios and are growing their inventory daily. These guys and those like them have the money, development resources, years of experience and flexibility to adapt and change and bend with the changes of the search market and the Internet, so they will be the survivors.

Right now, much of the money with domain name speculation is made by hosting a “parked” page on every domain in the inventory – the speculators then make money on all the traffic that goes to those pages through pay-per click (PPC) advertising. Some of that traffic is accidental, some of it because people utilized “direct navigation,” typing URLs directly into the search bar. But what happens down the road when the search engines get even smarter? What happens when Google and Yahoo are able to correct misspellings on the fly? Or when consumers get savvier and learn to not click on the ads that clutter the parked pages? What happens if Google discontinues its AdSense for domains program ?  Or if a new search engine emerges that completely changes the way that search happens?

What will the new world look like? New business models are already emerging, but most of what is “new” is based on the tried-and-true media/publishing model. Richard Rosenblatt is taking his vast network of domains and turning each of them into a Web 2.0 site with user-generated “how to” contentHam’s company, Reinvent Technology, has a mission “to transform our direct navigation business into a cutting edge media company by leveraging new technology, innovative ideas, and intellectual capital.” In 2005, venture company Highland Capital Partners bought YesDirect, a holding company with 600,000 domain names. It has since launched turned that company into NameMedia, which features a product called Direct Search that turns domain names such as www.photography.com into an online community, employing an “editorial model” to create a “compelling user experience.” They also hired Kelly Conlin, former president and CEO of IDG – a media company.

As John Andrews put it in his blog, “The next wave of the competitive Internet has arrrived, and it’s driven by the Domainers. No, not parked pages, and no, not typo squatters. Domainers as publishers.”

And in case you don’t believe him, Schilling points to this post and agrees. But instead of considering this a commentary on how the domain name industry is changing, he calls the trend the “potential/catalyst to change publishing.”

 

~ Today’s view:  http://www.flickr.com/photos/13799608@N08/1412989830/