Daily Scroll: Independent goes BuzzFeed?; marketing wearables; New York Times cuts staff

1 Oct

Copy-and-pasted excerpts from top media reads today.

How The Independent got its BuzzFeed on

That means taking a page out of the book of digital native publishers with high-metabolism, social media-optimized content with the newly launched i100, a site heavy on visuals that offers social media-oriented twists on the news, explainers and viral Web commentary.

Its change in tone comes with a fresh site layout, complete with responsive design, infinite scroll and social sign-in. Reminiscent of reddit and Foursquare, signed-in users get to up-vote content to the front page and get badges and rewards for interacting, too.

It’s two months in, and the i100 has attracted 1.9 million unique users in August, according to the group’s digital editor, and has gathered 29,000 Twitter followers and 12,000 likes on Facebook. What’s more impressive: It’s done that with an edit team of just three.

“We encouraged the i100′s team to speak the language of the Web and connect with people emotionally.”

“Site editors have an increasingly sophisticated understanding of attention analytics; not just what’s being clicked but what users are genuinely engaging with,” said Paul Hill, strategy and engagement director at digital marketing agency Further. “That’s influencing editorial priorities.”

“The key question for legacy media companies hoping to engage new audiences is whether it’s about brand extension — carrying their core proposition and values into new formats — or creating new brands that seem disconnected from the parent media group,” he added.

As for the quality and standards issues, Broughton brushes them off, pointing to maintaining a legacy mindset as a bigger threat for news publishers.

“Where publishers go wrong is that they have a dedicated social media team but expect results from the way they package up what is still fundamentally print content produced with a certain mindset. What we’ve done is try to maintain the quality of our reporting but have our stories speak to people in an more authentic way.”

The Wearables Marketing Mistake to Avoid

Wearable device shipments are expected to grow by triple-digit percentages this year; International Data Corporation projected the number of wearable device units shipped worldwide in 2014 would total 19.2 billion units—a more than 200% increase. Yet enthusiasm is tempered by two factors. First, significant growth is not surprising in a new tech category, especially one that encompasses a large swath of device types. Essentially, there is a wearable for every major body part. Second, the “magic” product—one that attracts a majority of consumers—has yet to come to market. Many suspect that Apple Watch will be that product when it launches in early 2015. But at this point, penetration among US consumers is low across all subcategories of wearables.

Ignoring wearables is a mistake, however. The early-adopter set is gravitating toward these devices, signaling the US market is ripe for the next tech innovation.
 And forward-looking businesses are already active in 
the space.

“Interaction on these devices will not be through two-thumb typing,” said Atul Satija, vice president of global revenue and operations at mobile advertising network InMobi. At most, he added, “interaction has to be a single-finger touch that is more of a ‘yes/no’ command.”

Ultimately, the goal of the message sent to the wearable should “give just enough information for the user to make a decision whether or not they want to take that next action—getting out their phone,” said Kira Wampler, CMO of real estate search site Trulia. Aiming for any complex interaction on the device itself is not likely to succeed.

New York Times Plans Cutbacks in Newsroom Staff

The New York Times plans to eliminate about 100 newsroom jobs, as well as a smaller number of positions from its editorial and business operations, offering buyouts and resorting to layoffs if enough people do not leave voluntarily, the newspaper announced on Wednesday.

Mr. Sulzberger and Mr. Thompson said that even with the cutbacks — 100 positions comprise about 7.5 percent of the newsroom staff — The Times would continue to expand and invest heavily in initiatives that supported its growth strategy, like digital technology, audience development and mobile offerings.

But they also said they had decided to wind down NYT Opinion because it had not drawn a substantial audience. And while praising NYT Now, a new app aimed at younger readers, they said that as a lower-priced subscription offer, it had not proved as popular as they had hoped.

Despite those cuts, the newsroom staff has grown to about 1,330, approaching its largest size ever, according to the company, up from about 1,250 at the end of last year. Some of that growth is a result of adding jobs for digital efforts, like web producers and video journalists.

What Time Are The Most Viral Stories Published At?

What we find here is that many of the most shared stories were published between midday and early afternoon east coast US time, or 4 to 7pm UK time.

We know that mobile visits soar after 4pm, in direct opposite to usage of desktops, largely an office-place platform.

…the trend on Twitter favours news and current affairs above most else.

Obviously, breaking news doesn’t wait, but the above data indicates that there’s no need to trip over yourself to be pushing your biggest stories out first thing in the morning.

Are Tablets Just as ‘Mobile’ as Smartphones? Market researchers say yes, but ad players think it’s controversial

“I think that it is critical that we separate the phone from the tablet in [the mobile-ads] discussion,” commented Richard Guest, president, U.S. operations at Tribal Worldwide. “The tablet is, most likely, the future of advertising because of its potential to serve as the lean-in, immersive companion device to traditional television screens.”

Eric Bader, CMO of RadiumOne, said tablets are “absolutely” part of the mobile marketing ecosystem.

“‘Mobile’ is not a description of a particular device; it’s a segment of consumers that are readily moving,” he asserted. “As far as advertisers are concerned, much of the consumer behavior taking place on a tablet is similar to a smartphone, less the phone calling. What illustrates the mobility of the tablet is when it’s so commonly used during a commute.”

…researcher Gartner predicts there will be 320 million tablet sales in 2015 versus 316 million desktop/laptop units.

Less Than Half of Snapchat’s Users Are in the U.S. But still no advertising on the app—yet

Some may think that Snapchat could be a gold mine of revenue for millennial-focused marketing, but Emily White, chief operating officer at the mobile messaging app, acknowleged today that monetization efforts aren’t coming soon.
“We’re certainly thinking about marketers, but we’re [in the] early days,” White said, during an interview at the Mobile Marketing Association’s SM2 Innovation Summit in New York.

How to Improve Strategic Partnerships (It’s Important)

The most-cited challenge/complexity in developing and managing strategic partnerships was actually keeping the partnership alive and rewarding for both parties, noted by 45% of respondents, while a close 42% had a similar issue: building an ongoing win-win relationship.

Publishers give the movie review a refresh

So for its review of “Gone Girl,” starring Ben Affleck, Time created a format that gives you an analysis that lets you decide whether to read it with spoilers or without.

Similarly, the Los Angeles Times has shifted its reviews coverage…It has added video coverage of reviews and recaps, too, with its weekly Talking TV water-cooler-style banters between its critics and writers.

Entertainment Weekly covers some 40 TV series. With 45 percent of its audience visiting its TV recaps, they’re one of the site’s most popular features. So EW recently gave the recaps their own tab on the site.

With video content in high demand by visitors as well as advertisers, the format also turned out to be a good fit for returning TV shows with complex plot lines.

[TIME’s] desire to expand its breadth of content was also behind the launch of a contributor network, whereby it has a network of passionate contributors writing about shows that have a small but loyal following.

“It’s an indication of the way we’re working much more closely with the tech team to create editorial experiences,” Mark Parolisi, technical lead at Time Inc., said.

Why Thrillist brought its Facebook ad buying in-house

Relying on a third party didn’t allow Thrillist to quickly refine its strategy mid-campaign. So Thrillist opted to have a two-person in-house team buy the majority of its Facebook ads.

Granted, Thrillist is not the largest advertisers the world — Newcomb said the site spends “millions” on media per year, but declined to further elaborate — but the move is illustrative of how technology has allowed certain brands, especially direct-response-focused ones, to control media buying themselves, and the threat that poses to the traditional agency model.

“Certain kinds of media buying are becoming more commoditized and the barrier to entries are lower, so there’s arguably less value for having intermediaries,” said Jason Goldberg, Razorfish’s vp of strategy.

Bringing matters in-house appears to have worked, as Thrilist’s number of repeat customers has increased 9 percent since the change. Thrillist spends half of its ad budget on Facebook, Newcomb added, and while it no longer uses AdParlor, it will continue to use ad tech AmPush to manage its app install campaigns on Facebook.

What happens when you combine WhatsApp with YouTube

Montreal-based 5by plans to introduce its own messaging product next week, with one key difference from those aforementioned apps: Its new platform lies at the nexus between messaging and Web video.

“People do not want to broadcast everything on Facebook; they just want to easily send things to people they care about,” 5by CEO Greg Isenberg told Digiday. “We leverage this behavior to make it easier for people to find, share and discuss videos.”

Attached to each share is a conversation thread, in which up to 12 participants can chat about the content — or whatever else comes to mind — in a space below the video player.

“The reason we limit conversation to 12 people is because that’s the maximum amount of people you can have at a dinner table,” said Isenberg. “The quality of the conversation is really important to us.”

5by draws “hundreds of thousands” of daily video plays across iOS, Android and the Web, said Isenberg, who declined to disclose more specific engagement or user-base figures. Whatever engagement is now, the inclusion of in-app sharing and messaging features is a clear attempt to boost it, encouraging people to return to the app more often.

Folks can still share 5by content through their social network of choice, email or SMS.

“The first thing we look for in partners is really great content,” said Andrew Levine, head of partnerships at StumbleUpon and 5by.

“Ultimately, if we become the de facto place to find and share videos, there’s a million ways to skin the cat in terms of how to monetize it,” said 5by CEO Greg Isenberg. “For now, it’s really about building the community.”

Google+ is the Social Underpinning for All Things Google

The biggest problem is the narrow perception of Google+. Most people look at the network in the same context that they do Twitter and Facebook. What they don’t realize is that Google+ is the platform that makes Google products social.

While Google+ is much more than a social destination, there are still more than 300 million active monthly users on the site.

LinkedIn checks its Pulse with refreshed reading experience on desktop and mobile

LinkedIn is making it easier to read and share content from LinkedIn Pulse, and is looking to emphasize content with “clean, uncluttered text” set against prominent images.

Reddit Closes $50 Million Round, Will Give 10% Back to Users

“We’re planning to use this money to hire more staff for product development, expand our community management team, build out better moderation and community tools, work more closely with third party developers to expand our mobile offerings (try our new AMA app), improve our self-serve ad product, build out redditgifts marketplace, pay for our growing technical infrastructure, and all the many other things it takes to support a huge and growing global internet community.”

However, the most notable development with this round of funding is that the investors agreed to give 10 percent of their shares back to the community. Details on how exactly this would happen are sparse, but Wong offered this tentative plan:

“We are thinking about creating a cryptocurrency and making it exchangeable (backed) by those shares of reddit, and then distributing the currency to the community. The investors have explicitly agreed to this in their investment terms…

We want to emphasize that this plan is in its earliest stages right now and could totally fail (if it does, we will find another way to get the shares to the community somehow), but we are going to try it because… well, because we are reddit and we do these kinds of things.”

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