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.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Chasing clicks isn't bringing in readers or money



Some observations by media economics expert Robert Picard's observations about the challenges of media today, from an interview done by the University of Navarra Faculty of Communication:

Media companies need to develop revenue from many more sources than they did in the past.

Media companies are diluting the quality of their product by chasing reader clicks with light or frivolous digital content. "This is not bringing in money, and it's not bringing in audience."

Versión en español

Maybe 15 to 25 percent of the reading public will pay for serious news, Picard says. These are the people who really want news.

Journalists think their work is really important, and for the journalists, it is. But for most people, they just want to get on with their lives. If something important happens, then they will go online and read it somewhere, but most of the time they won't pay for it.

Newspapers have to stop thinking of themselves as a product for a general audience. The people who still subscribe tend to be the most active politically, socially, and financially in their communities. Newspapers should be selling that aspect of their audience, not a massive audience.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Picard to publishers: get cozy with readers, users

Robert Picard speaking to class at University of Navarra.

Robert G. Picard is one of the founding fathers of the academic discipline known as media economics. The field has attracted more attention lately as news outlets, ravaged by digital competitors, have gutted their reporting staffs and slashed public-service coverage.

Policy makers, media executives, investors, and journalists themselves look to experts like Picard for answers about how to deal with the industry's financial crisis and the diminishing supply of news.

Picard admits that he is unsure of exactly what the future holds for the industry. What he does know is that the people who are running media organizations--TV, radio, newspapers, magazines, and even digital outlets--know far too little about their readers, viewers, listeners, and users.

Publishers need to invite these consumers into the processes of creating and distributing content, he said. They need to think about how to create value that will satisfy the needs and solve the problems of their users. 

Friday, September 22, 2017

Publishers look beyond Facebook, Google for revenues

A deal with the devil.

A new study by the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA) confirms what I have suspected for a long time: when publishers rely on Facebook for distribution, they are making a deal with the devil.

"Reality Check: Making Money with Facebook" was based on a survey of an "expert group" of 150 publishers. On average, Facebook was contributing only 7% of their revenues in spite of the fact that much of the publishers' content was being consumed on that platform.

And Facebook is stingy when it comes to sharing revenue with publishers, compared with Google, Spotify, Twitter, and others. It "seems to share proportionally less revenue with content creators than other platforms do."

Loss of branding power

The WAN-IFRA findings are also troubling because studies by Pew Research (see paragraph 4 of the study) and the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism (see p. 16 of the study) have shown that users think Facebook or Twitter produced news stories that were actually produced by a news organization. In other words, news organizations are losing their brand identities in social media.

If news organizations are going to have a chance of survival in the new digital economy, they will need to rely on the power of their brands  as trusted sources to persuade people to pay for their content.