Linky links

Every week I curate a few links for my team that are directly relevant to our objectives and activities. This week, I thought they were particularly interesting, with broader implications, so put them here too. The links loosely fall into being (1) about algos/data in newsrooms (2) optimising for mobile screens (3) readers having a say. 

1. Algorithms help in content decisions (70/30, but the human 30 is top): How Netflix embodies a seductive myth of the algorithmic age. 

2. They're looking, also, at optimising videos for different platforms. Which we should all be doing. Netflix looking at mobile specific versions of original shows. 

3. Using analytics in the NYT Newsroom "Engaging with an audience is key when it comes to being a good reporter. If you know who you’re writing a story for, whether the audience is big or small, you will know where those clicks came from, and it will feel rewarding no matter what."

4. Using algorithms to determine the homepage...

5. EVERYTHING one might need to know on mobile!

6. Readers increasingly important. If the quant is the algos (above) a reader center is the qual. 

7. A place for readers to discuss the news by WaPo. PLUS pair it with this (Dow Jones) article to spot the "readers discussing the story behind the story with journalists" trend.

Going glocal

Growing audiences is hard and it is competitive. Adaptation to local markets can be difficult. A number of companies are looking to grow by targeting specific regions and languages, rather than assuming their existing properties will work for everyone. There are three ways this is happening: 

  1. Acquisitions, like Univision’s purchase of Fusion and Gawker Media Group (though closing the Gawker site) to move into English language news

  2. Translation, like the Washington Post, Buzzfeed and a coalition of European Publishers translating are doing

  3. Business development like the NYT’s new department (NYT Global) is doing through its LatAm news products and recent push towards Australia, and Canada


Audience first thinking is a methodology, not a goal

Too often we conflate our own objectives with that of an organisation. Recently, I've noticed this happening with audience engagement and audience first-thinking. While extremely important, it is still a means to an end, a methodology that we must try to embody. It isn't an end point. So, I made a flow chart type of thing to illustrate the point. 


Does this happen in your newsroom too?


Video does what?

Facebook wants Live Video to be the future, paying close to $50mn to celebrities and publishers to create live video and prioritizing it in their newsfeed algorithm. While Facebook may be making the most headlines right now, it’s not the only company putting the spotlight  on live video. In the last year Meerkat (now pivoted), Periscope (now owned by Twitter), YouNow and most recently YouTube and tumblr launched live streaming.

So, why is Facebook prioritizing streaming video? Because it “is looking to compete for television advertising... [and] is anxious about the future. People are sharing less about themselves, which slows Facebook’s growth and cuts at the heart of its most profitable product, the News Feed…[this] is one attempt to solve that problem.” 

Live streaming may very well be a Facebook driven play for revenue and relevance, and not necessarily a question of demand. For instance, this recent Reuters study reports that over 3/4ths of people rely on text for their news, finding it faster and more convenient than video. What’s more, these findings apply to video at large -- not just live video; a majority of people prefer text to any type of video when getting their news.

Here, we look at different video formats:

All the reports.

I have now read all the reports (well, four of the recent and biggish ones), including:

Mary Meeker’s Internet Trends (aka What the audience is doing plus larger trends)

Pew: State of the News Media (aka What the industry is doing)

Reuters Institute: Digital News Report (aka What the audience says they are doing)

Tow Center: Digital News In a Distributed Environment (aka What platforms and publishers are doing with their content for the audience)

And have summarized:


Mobile use is increasing, but how people use mobile technology is changing. These changes primarily include more messaging apps, more image/photo centric systems, and more audio. For users, this leads to an increase in time-on-mobile, but a decrease in time-on-mobile spent with media companies. In turn, this has led to adoption of new mobile apps and interfaces by the news media. 

While there is an understanding that behaviors of consumers are changing, there is confusion by media on where or what to publish. Essentially, on how to adapt to these technological changes. This is particularly prominent in terms of messaging services and the use of video.

On messaging

According to Pew, very little people are getting their news through messaging services (only 1% for Line and Snapchat). At the same time that 1% of people getting news through Line is actually a third of the users on Line.

While Mary Meeker reveals strong growth of messaging apps in APAC specifically, Tow reveals that not that many publishers have moved meaningfully into publishing on APAC based messaging apps. There seems to be a disconnect between where consumption growth lies, and where Western media are focusing efforts.

On video

Users are certainly using video. Meeker notes that there are 10 billion videos viewed on Snapchat a day. But, how this relates to new consumption -- and monetization --  is less certain. A quote from the Reuters report that summarizes this: “we find evidence that most consumers are still resistant. Three-quarters of respondents (78%) say they still mostly rely on text. When pressed, the main reasons people give for not using more video are that they find reading news quicker and more convenient (41%) and the annoyance of pre-roll advertisements (35%)”