Archives For Web 2.0

From the exit post on New Matilda:

Looking to the experience of media start-ups in the US and the UK, we have realised that the days of the single-revenue media outlet are over. Nowadays, small outlets are finding new ways to fund their work through what Texas Tribune founder John Thornton calls “revenue promiscuity”: “you have to get it everywhere and often”.

They are trading on the quality of their journalism and their trusted brands to build relationships with other media outlets to which they provide niche content. And they rely on a broad and growing base of philanthropists, funding bodies, foundations and individuals who see that as the media industry cuts costs, the survival of public interest journalism requires them to put their money where their mouth is.

Well, it’s a triple backflip summersault from an editor that claimed that there was no future in online media.

But it is spoilt a bit by stuff like this

These outlets are doing important work to fill the gaps left by a shrinking media industry, often with little money and few staff

Actually, the media industry is thriving. The HERITAGE media is shrinking, new media is thriving. And that’s half the problem with how New Matilda was run, and was certainly a problem at Crikey when king luddite Jonathan Green ran the shop: neither considers themselves to be part of new media.

This also doesn’t help

When we re-launch, our primary aim will not be to drive hits back to our own site — the model that advertisers dictate is king — but to inject new, quality journalism and analysis into the Australian media environment. In this way we hope to inspire enough of you out there to deem us worthy of your financial support.

She doesn’t seem to understand that traffic isn’t just about ads: if you don’t have enough readers, you’re not going to get enough financial support from ANY source.

Saw these ads on Problogger Jobs today (and yes, I read Problogger Jobs once every week or two: competitive intelligence 😉 )

Seeking Australian mum bloggers to write about what they love to write about
Freelance SEO-aware online copywriters, Sydney
Head content angler (suit editor, sub-editor), Sydney

All the jobs are for blog(s) coming out of McCann Worldgroup, a Sydney based “advertising, marketing and communications agency.”

It naturally tweaked my radar: what’s a marketing firm doing creating blogs.

This paragraph in particular caused the radar blip (emphasis is mine):

“We’re currently on the lookout for Australian mums (with kids under 10) who can write their socks off. We’re working with a variety of large companies on building great content-rich websites, many of which will focus on mums.

Now this isn’t a publishing company, this is a advertising, marketing and communications agency, a company that would normally place ads on other sites, not create sites, at least the sort they are proposing here.

So I turned to Twitter, and in particular to Laurel Papworth for a radar check. The thought was “am I reading too much into this?”

Twitter / Duncan Riley: @SilkCharm what do you mak ...

A little later Mark Pollard, the Strategy Director and McCann Sydney responds.

Twitter / Mark Pollard: @duncanriley @SilkCharm W ...

I responded in terms of the description of the site: note McCann states that they are “working with a variety of large companies on building great content-rich websites.” That line suggests that the sites are being made for the companies, not the sites being made for the inventory to sell to (one would presume) advertisers.

Twitter / Duncan Riley: @markpollard should PR age ...

But apparently this doesn’t raise any alarm with Pollard, which in itself is interesting. I originally asked Laurel what she thought of it because I was looking to see both sides (and Laurel has a fine radar for these things), but the other side seems to be lost on Pollard.

Twitter / Mark Pollard: @duncanriley I don't under ...

Ah yes, putting “real names” to blog posts negates any relationship between the content they are writing, and the advertisers the site(s) have been set up for.

Sounds a little bit epic fail to me.

I could well be wrong, and if Pollard would like to share the editorial guidelines with me that show that there will be a clear separation between editorial and advertisers, I’ll cop that my radar is wrong.

Thing is: so far it doesn’t read that way.

Perhaps it’s not astroturfing, but we know what happened in the United States when the line between advertising and content blurred, don’t we.

Argue away in the comments, and try to convince me otherwise: as I last said to Pollard on Twitter:

Twitter / Duncan Riley: @markpollard I'm sure your ...

And I mean that sincerely. But getting defensive in replies on what is a genuine interest in the ethical issues that could come into play here doesn’t endear confidence.

Just doing my monthly rec for The Inquisitr in costs, and discover that our full hosting bill (including host, third party storage and CDN) should come in at about US$220 this month.

That’s with 331gb through Amazon Cloudfront (I also use S3 for storage, a different service, doesn’t cost much at all for storage so not counted here), 33gb through Limelight Networks (I mention both names because they are both considered worlds best) and 120gb of bandwith through Rackspace (again considered to be a top tier host.)

People want to argue about the economics of journalism in the case of New Matilda: fine. But you know I’m right when I say New Matilda blaming increased hosting costs as one of their reasons for shutting either indicates a falsehood, or what I suspect is the case: they were doing it wrong.

I’m far, far from an expert in hosting: our last bill before leaving MediaTemple last year was something over US$1k for example (on one third of the traffic), and keeping the bloody thing up was an ongoing nightmare. But I’ve found that you can always cut hosting costs if you look around and do your homework properly, and I’d note most importantly: you don’t have to sacrifice quality either. In fact, we’ve got far better quality hosting then we ever have had. We’ve had few to no problems with our current setup, and the use of CDN’s has increased site loading times significantly.

My guess is New Matilda didn’t have a CDN and were probably using a local host who was charging them an arm and a leg.

Edit: just changed the reference to S3. I use both Cloudfront and S3. The bill comes from Cloudfront. S3 was like $3 this month.

Another birthday passed May 5 for The Inquisitr, and we did the month in style with new traffic highs.

Dashboard - Google Analytics

The challenge ahead is to get the uniques up now; we’ve finally got the page views per visit up to where is should be, but its the extra uniques that drive the ad revenue.

Not bad numbers for a site mocked by a senior ABC employee as “insignificant” or another Australian publication as “having 50 readers.” 🙂

I popped my head up and gave my 2 cents worth this morning on The Inquisitr on the demise of New Matilda, and not surprisingly shots came in 🙂

I mean this in all sincerity: I’m sad to see the demise of one of the best independent commentary sites in Australia. I wasn’t a daily reader as such, but I’ve read enough of it over the years to know that we were all better off for it existing.

But you’ll have to forgive me when I get pissed off when sites blame advertising and unproven “new media models” for a failure to cover costs.

First: you own your fail. There’s no disgrace in failing. 90% of all small businesses fail. Some things work, some don’t. But you don’t blame the market because you couldn’t run the business at profit, or at least cover costs for six years. You go to the market and sell your product/ service, and if that doesn’t work, you change your model. The market doesn’t change to fit you.

I’m particularly riled at excuses such as “The big media players are struggling to find a workable online business model that allows them to pay their writers and maintain high standards — and so are we.”

There’s nothing hard about covering your costs and living within your means. There’s nothing hard about knowing if you’re doing the same thing for 3 or 6 years, and it isn’t working, you change the model or you get out before burning more money.

And seriously, an independent Australian media outlet quoting the lies of Rupert Murdoch on new media models? The same lies spread by the likes of former Crikey editor Jonathan Green who claims in speeches that there’s no money in new media?

There’s plenty of money to be had in new media, in all shapes and sizes. Only this week, True/Slant sold to Forbes in the United States; I pick that example in particular because True/Slant had a similar high quality focus to New Matilda, and had been operating for only 13 months. The likes of the Huffington Post are profitable, and there are many sites in the United States at various points throughout the quality scale making money, some of them serious money.

There are, I should add, more than a few Australian sites making money as well, although given the constant new media is bad meme from the mainstream media, you’d never know about it.

And here’s the little secret: there’s more money in quality advertising in Australia at the moment than the United States, at least from the people I’ve been talking to.

I’m not suggesting that it’s easy in Australia; scale is bloody hard because of the population. But likewise we wouldn’t have seen the likes of News, Fairfax and ABC rush into this online commentary space last year if all they all thought it would lose them serious money.

Here’s how I would have fixed New Matilda

1. Introduce an AAP feed so there’s more general news on the site. You have to scale, and the broader news would have subsidized the commentary stuff. I’m not suggesting turning the site into, but there’s plenty of room there for complimentary AAP content.

2. Pay writers less, or put them on performance related pay: I know that’s harsh to the writers, and I know most are deserving of top dollar, but likewise New Matilda isn’t a charity, but seemed to be operating as one.

3. Broadscale user contributions: New Matilda has always had guest posts, but nothing of serious scale such as The Punch, National Times etc. Take the Huffington Post model, and open the door to more. The best stuff goes on the front page, the other stuff is there on site somewhere. If you had a little spare cash, incentivise it a bit with any of a number of models.

4. Better advertising: if you can’t get top dollar for ads, run network ads. New Matilda is showing multiple iTunes affiliate ads at the moment. I’m not saying ads have to be trashy, but likewise you don’t get to keep a stiff upper lip on ad sales when you’re bleeding money either.

Actually, I hope someone buys New Matilda and turns it into an Australian Huffington Post. I like the brand, I like the content, but it needs to be scaled, and scaled quickly, and the only way to do that is to increase the readership base.

This country needs a Huffington Post, and I’d be following that model now if I had the money to do so (we’ve been profitable for a long time, but my yacht in Greece was sadly canceled by the GFC 🙂 ). Someone should, it’s a great business opportunity waiting to happen.

Dashboard - Google Analytics
Uploaded with plasq‘s Skitch!

So our traffic has finally gone through a growth spurt, headed primarily by a big jump in pages per visitor after installing Facebook commenting (see graph above.)

But the jump isn’t reflected in any of our public stats, including Quantcast via direct tracking. Note that our internal stats are backed by GetClicky, GAnalytics and Technorati Media…that is, we know this isn’t a mistake. - Reviews, Site Info, Traffic Stats and Related Links from Alexa - Quantcast Audience Profile
Uploaded with plasq‘s Skitch!

What gives? I know there’s a focus on uniques with these services (and our uniques are fairly steady) but both views are page view views.

And in case your wondering why I love Mark Zuckerberg at the moment….

Dashboard - Google Analytics

The Age: ‘Rape simulator’ game goes viral amid calls for censorship

Attempts to ban a deplorable “rape simulator” video game have only caused it to spread virally across the internet, leading to calls for sites hosting the game to be blocked by internet censors.

Karen Willis, executive officer of the NSW Rape Crisis Centre, said in a phone interview that the existence of material such as the RapeLay video game, which lets players simulate stalking and raping young girls, made internet filters, such as those proposed by the government, necessary….

Willis said she “absolutely” believes the forthcoming internet filtering regime is necessary and should block sites that offer access to the game.

Here’s a copy of the cover of the game, what’s the one thing that stands out (well, besides the young anime girls)

Did you notice the DVD part?

It’s not an online game, it’s an actual game that you can download or buy on DVD.

And if it’s a download, what’s the most common forms of downloading on the net again, and are these blocked by the internet filter? 🙂

I wan’t an internet filter for stupid people, and I’m adding Karen Willis on my blacklist after Chairman Rudd and Reichsminister Conroy.

Inquisitr: Gothamist Blog Network Acquired For $5-$6 Million

I don’t know Jake much at all, although I’m pretty sure we swapped some emails in the early days. I covered the network in the Blog Herald days a fair few times, well, my memory is backed by Google as well here.

It’s just great to see one of the early few finally come up with an exit.

Which is why I found this comment from Nick Denton odd.

Don’t get me wrong: Nick is the master of all things blog, even if his first protege is burning through the remaining funding at a company I was once involved with, and bleeding traffic.

Thing is: I don’t care whether $5-$6 million isn’t the greatest exit after 7-8 years. It’s still an exit, and I don’t believe that even a couple of million each (and yeah, I get the CGT argument, been there, done that) is bad.

Probably not in NY, but I could buy a nice house with that and have change for the next thing. Hell, if someone wants to offer me low 7 figures for The Inquisitr tomorrow, please do; the divorce has been costly after all 🙂

In context, and this is where Nick may not get it, is that so many have fallen before them; that they lasted so long and could exit at all is a credit to Jake and Jen. It may not be the biggest exit, but it’s a respectable one in the broader context of those that came before.

Nick, I hate to say it, but you haven’t exited yet. That Gawker may be worth a stray $100 million on paper is way different to actually exiting.

Give them their credit without condition; they deserve it, and I think deep down you know they do, even if they never reached your heights. Besides, I’ve seen their network traffic, that valuation just helped you at least a little bit 🙂

Inquisitr: Australian Government Body Goes After Encyclopedia Dramatica In Epic Waste Of Taxpayer Dollars

The creeping fascism just keeps getting worse.

I mean what sort of crusader Government attempts to take legal action over a site that it has ZERO jurisdiction over?

And crusader is the right term. This is a moral crusade by a Government led by a religious nutter that has no respect for the fundamental human right of free speech.

Yeah, yeah, AHRC is a separate body, and yes, it has tried it on before (although not like this.) But they know where the funding comes from, and they’re trying to impress their paymasters now….least is there any other explanation for this pure insanity?

Our Government and its statutory bodies continue to embarrass us on an international level, and I think without doubt now that it has to go at the next election.

God, if you don’t want to vote Liberal, vote Green even. Just don’t vote for Chairman Rudd. Please!

So it bucketed down Golf balls here in Melbourne Saturday…well, it did where I lived, some media are reporting hail as big as lemons.

One of the few times I’ve ever been scared in weather (other times nearly exclusively on aircraft.) I actually pulled Declan away from the windows because I was scared that the hail would shatter them. The noise is something I’ll never forget: we have a colourbond roof, OMG it was loud.

I didn’t keep a full tally of how long it took for the media to cover it, but my general observations: slow.

The Age was first with the storm warning. didn’t have it, but it did appear in the Hun just before storm. ABC mustn’t work Saturdays.

Afterwards, The Age was first up with a picture, but slow in updating the storm warning.

The Hun beat The Age, but it was a good 30 mins after the fact.

The rest followed. ABC was beyond slow, hours later.

Notably while the newspapers were still only just reporting it, Seven News that night (and it’s the only time I watch the news…natural disasters) dedicated the first full half to the disaster.

It was too local for my coverage (earthquakes and fires I’ll play, but hail not so much) but given what was coming out of Twitter in the minutes following, could have beaten them all….and anyone else could have as well. I was sharing video and pics via Twitter from others 15 minutes before the MSM hit the story hard.

It would appear though that the MSM here in Australia continue to get caught short on weekends.