August 6th, 2013 § Comments Off § permalink
Today Amazon’s Jeff Bezos announced his purchase of The Washington Post for US$250 million.
Bezos obviously sees the value of a well-respected masthead as he gradually builds up content options and value for Amazon’s Kindle services.
Strong brand loyalty, simple automated payment processes through Kindle/Amazon, with useful hardware is a nice combination that Bezos obviously feels he’s building here.
His move is also a respite for many journalists as the newspaper industry sees its margins and core values being squeezed in every which way.
It’s the value of the newspaper’s brand that’s got me thinking about which newspaper brands are of real international value.
The Guardian is a personal favourite of mine and there’s the likes of the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times and the Sydney Morning Herald. All very much established, well positioned and respected newspapers and brands.
So what have we got in New Zealand that stands up internationally? The NZ Herald and Stuff are the standout news services. And although Stuff is my local digital offering, the New Zealand Herald is a clear winner IMHO.
Stuff’s branding is one dimensional without an actual hard copy and its brand gets too fragmented across its many small regional mastheads. For international audiences I also think they would favour the NZ Herald too for the simple fact it has “New Zealand” in it’s masthead.
“Be the first, be the best, be different” is a long-running quote on successful Internet ventures. Bezos levered this formula with books and CDs…now we wait to see how different he’s going to make newspapers.
I’ve got a set of bookmarked websites I call ‘timefillers’. They’re sites that are regularly updated and contain gee whiz content that stirs up emotions. One of my timefiller sites is twistedsifter.com. It features a range of filtered image lists eg 10 best, 15 most etc that make you generally feel good. What I also like about twistedsifter.com is its cross promotion to other content lists with “if you liked this you’ll probably like…”
Now this is not new thinking. In fact it is very old. But doing this well, is still something too many corporate and gevernment sites seem to ignore. They invest in remarketing their websites once people have left their website, but have ignored the user just as they’re about to leave their site.This is surely a lost opportunity.
That particular moment of cross-promotion must be the best possible behavioural marketing offer websites can deliver. People are already on your site, they’ve shown you what they like, it’s up to you to now present additional content that they’ll like.
In a week it will be a year since I last posted on this blog. A year. Wow. It’s moved fast. In that time we’ve completely rebuilt our house, seen my blog get hacked and saved, watched our youngest move into ‘the school years’ and continued to provide ongoing digital advice and support to our core clients and three new ones.
We’ve seen Facebook float and turn its community into a product. We’ve seen Instagram’s owners profit, stuff up and recover.
Google’s continued its march into behavioural marketing and is slowly using its various verticals to build Google+ into a colossal tool.
Apple, sans Steve Jobs, has continued to own the smartphone and tablet device space, although their app centric OS is starting to wear down its appeal as Windows (yes Windows!) launches a more useful mobile product and Samsung and Nokia find the right size and features for their hardware.
We’ve watched local player Trade me slow as people start buying goods directly overseas or simply dismiss the need for buying and selling books, DVDs or CDs.
Groupon and its various pretenders have seen the light and we watched them burn out as fast as they came.
We’ve watched the newspaper industry whittle down its profits as advertisers place their dollars where the eyeballs can be measured and better understood.
We’ve seen Pacific Fibre slide underwater and take with it a potential windfall of benefits for Kiwis.
We’ve seen NZ be a pawn in Hollywood’s attempts to remain in the past with their business models.
We’ve seen NZ journalists really start to understand twitter and its potential. If only they stopped exclusively talking with each other on it and started using it to connect with new audiences.
And we’ve seen the rise and rise of Pinterest. As of yesterday the company has a market valuation of $2.5 billion. Well played.
Heaps of other things happened too. But if I list them all, it’ll be another year before I actually post some opinion here. And who knows what will happen in a year…
Earlier today I watched a terrific TED presentation from Eli Pariser. He explains how Google and Facebook are using algorithms based on our past site viewing patterns to give us all different search results and newsfeed updates.
As well as Google and Facebook’s algorithms, I think there’s also a natural pattern evolving with twitter whereby we’ve started building our own silos of self-confirming opinion. During the 2011 Election I’ve seen this quite clearly.
I’ve followed people on twitter over the years because I found their insights interesting. But what I also found in the Election was that most people I follow are left-leaning liberals who had little time for John Key and his approach to media. Kind of like me looking in the mirror.
I found that a little boring and ended up ignoring a number of people and looking for some new folks to follow to give my view on the Election a bit of balance.
As Eli Pariser points out in his presentation, news editors of TV, radio and print media may have had particular left/right leanings, but at the end of the day their position has only been sustainable if they offered a bit of professional balance. Just look at Fox News in the US. Widely viewed, but only by a limited audience.
To really create or write a good news article it’s important that the “other side’s” view is articulated, read or viewed and understood. Then people can make up their own opinion based on both sides’ arguments. That’s a democracy.
If we all just see the same old information from a select few with similar views, how will we grow?
A friend of mine recently overhauled their company website. The result has been a massive improvement with a simple navigation and tidy redesign. What they hadn’t considered, however, was how each part of their site would be measured. To me, that’s critical.
The website uses Google Analytics – which is a big tick – but their gap was using modal pop-up boxes for their key conversion goals. This approach meant tracking conversion goals would not work by matching the URLs. Instead, each action in the journey to goal conversion had to be tagged as ‘onClick events’.
In the past this would have meant the conversion metrics would not be deemed a ‘goal’ – thankfully, version 5 of Google Analytics has finally allowed this function. However, what my friend can’t do with the new site is create goal funnels using the events. I see this a real gap in analysis.
Being able to quickly create the goal conversion funnels and present them to clients and site managers is terrific. You can all see where people are coming from and where they’re dropping out. That knowledge is particularly valuable as it serves as the centre-point of the ‘tweak, measure, tweak, measure’ approach that makes online promotion so simple.
Good site design is important. But if you don’t have a clear, simple metric reporting platform underneath, you’re limiting your website’s potential.
Two friends I follow on twitter have recently joined an existing web business and quickly started using their personal twitter accounts to promote the employer’s various marketing activities.
Now I’ve got no problem with them doing this…except that I find it rather boring and just a bit forced. It feels like there’s a trend building that people are expected to use their personal twitter accounts to tweet or retweet their employer’s or client’s messages.
If this continues, will the number and quality of your twitter followers become an important asset to include in your CV?