Thursday, January 18, 2018

How publishers can overcome loss of Facebook traffic

Now that Facebook has made clear that it will not be promoting journalism to its users, all of the publishers who were getting much of their traffic there should look elsewhere. (Frederic Filloux of Monday Note has one of the best analyses of the company's announcement.)


What now? Well, there are several tactics and strategies that publishers can take to replace what they have lost (and will lose) from Facebook's pivot away from news. (I have also written about such strategies in Spanish.)

1. A tactic: start an email newsletter with links to your content. Think of it as a walled garden that protects you from Facebook.

Daily, weekly, or monthly newsletters create a more intimate relationship with users. Some publications have several on different topics, such as technology, business, public safety, or politics that users can select from. Local news sites in particular can benefit from daily newsletters.

The links to your content send users directly to your site, and any ad revenue goes to your business rather than Facebook. Many digital news publishers report higher response rates from email subscribers to offers of subscriptions, premium content, or memberships.
 

2.  Focus on the quality of users instead of the quantity: relationship rather than scale, engagement rather than volume.

The metrics of the "attention web" focus on showing the value of the audience's relationship with the media brand rather than with an advertiser's product.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

2018: Credibility will be the new currency for journalism

Editor's note: an earlier version of this post had typeface issues; my apologies.

An organization I work with that promotes development of independent media in Latin America, SembraMedia.org, recently asked me to make some predictions for 2018.



I really had just one: Credibility will be the new currency of journalism in 2018 and the years to come.
 

But to explain, here are that prediction's corollaries:



1. Independent media--those based on serving the public rather than turning a profit---will grow in importance through revealing corruption and holding authorities accountable. There are many examples. In the U.S., organizations such as ProPublica and Texas Tribune; in Spain, eldiario.es; in Peru, OjoPúblico; in Colombia, Connectas and La Silla Vacía; in Mexico, Aristegui Noticias and Animal Político; in Argentina, Chequeado; and hundreds of others around the world.


2. These independent media that serve the public first rather than political or economic interests will gain credibility by challenging the powers that be. That credibility will have economic value that will be monetized through support from NGOs, foundations, consumers, wealthy donors, and service-oriented organizations.

3. Journalism will continue its transformation from a business to a public service, and traditional media that view journalism as a business will accelerate their own decline. The traditional media's focus on maintaining profit margins will cause them to continue gutting their staff, their products and their services. They will have neither the will nor the means to make the needed investments in personnel and technology to transition to the world of multimedia, interactive, multiplatform, interactive journalism. (There are a handful of exceptions.)

Monday, December 18, 2017

Think small: the new metrics of engagement for news

Forget about the big numbers of total page views per month or unique users per month.

Fans are engaged and willing to give their time and money.
Those numbers are misleading and meaningless. They had meaning only in the days when the media business depended on mass media, massive audiences, and products aimed at the masses.

That was when the news media depended on advertising.

Today the business of media is all about touching potential customers with personalized, customized messages. It's about identifying the small number of people who are truly fans of your publication or the stars on your team. It's about strengthening the emotional attachment people have to your brand and its mission.

How the big numbers mislead us

In their very successful campaign to reach 1 million paid subscriptions for their digital-only edition, the Washington Post learned that the users most likely to subscribe came to their site three times a month.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Media seek 'emotional engagement' of audiences

Sylvia Chan-Olmsted is one of the leading scholars of media economics, and she stopped by the University of Navarra Dec. 13 to chat about some of the trends she is seeing in the industry.

"Media companies need to translate data into intelligence."
Chan-Olmsted, a professor at the University of Florida, singled out three trends:

1. There is a new value chain in media. Content is becoming "unbundled", meaning users can buy individual movies, TV shows, or songs without having to pay for products they don't want. 

Content is becoming crowd-sourced, meaning that consumers are recommending things to each other through social media.

And the major media companies are harnessing their data about users to recommend media products and even create content based on their customers' tastes.

Media platforms like YouTube, Apple, AmazonHulu, and Facebook are all starting to invest billions of dollars in original content to challenge Netflix, whose business model has disrupted the movie studios, TV networks, and cable services.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

The audiences are in charge: are publishers listening?

Recently I was invited to give a lecture at the University of Malaga--"The audiences are in charge: Are publishers listening?" The audience had students in their doctoral, master's and bachelor's programs, as well as a number of faculty.

Below is a summary of the presentation.



1. The marriage of convenience between advertising and journalism is over. For proof, look no further than the graphic below, which shows that newspapers in Spain have lost more than 500 million euros in ad revenue since 2009, and that includes the revenue they get from digital. (The U.S. is very similar.)

In the future, news media will need to develop a deep relationship with their users. The important thing will be not the quantity of eyeballs reached, as measured by page views and unique users, but the quality of the relationship with the users.

Versión en español

Friday, December 8, 2017

Journalists and sales: don't sell your soul

Over the past several years, I have written a number of blog posts about how journalists can get involved in sales and marketing without violating their ethical standards or damaging the credibility of their publication. Here are a few of them.

1. Journalists selling ads: think of it as a fair exchange
When I was going through the transition from editor of a business publication to the role of publisher, I dreaded sales calls with clients.
"It meant I had to ask clients for money, which was a new and uncomfortable experience. The hilarious irony of this is that, as a reporter and editor, it was my job to ask people much tougher, more-intrusive questions, and I did it with no problem -- grieving parents about the death of their child, a political candidate about his sexual escapades, a business executive about her salary.
How tough could it be for a former reporter to ask an advertiser for money?

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

It takes a village to identify false news

Filloux: A credibility scorecard
Liberal democracies are being tested around the world by the rapid diffusion of misleading or false information designed to influence voters.

It has happened in France, Catalonia, the U.K., and, of course, the U.S.

Many have proposed--for example, the World Economic Forum--that two of the most powerful vehicles for spreading information, Facebook and Google, should be responsible for filtering out material that is demonstrably false or misleading.

Versión en español. 

But it turns out that this is not easy to do. False information is often irresistibly appealing and moves too fast to be stopped.
Why we're Still in the Dark about Facebook's Fight Against Fake News -- Mother Jones
Nine experts offer opinions on how to fix Facebook -- New York Times

Not an editor, but a scorecard

What's more, it is hard to define false news in a way that can be automated by algorithms. Journalist and media consultant Frederic Filloux has developed the News Quality Scoring Project, which attempts to use automated systems to evaluate the likely credibility of a piece of news content. It doesn't label news as false or fake. It simply gives a credibility score based on a series of indicators such as a publisher's or a journalist's previous reliability.

Filloux's Publication Quality Score criteria


Facebook, Google, and Twitter themselves are working with the Trust Project on an automated system to display "trust indicators" alongside information they share with users.