Damon Kiesow



Media companies haven’t exploited opportunities created by iPad and mobile technology

I helped launch the Mobile Media blog in January 2010, days before Apple unveiled the iPad. Now, 15 months and 20 million iPads later, this is my last week as a daily contributor to Poynter.org.

I’m moving to The Boston Globe to take a position as a senior product manager. In a few weeks, Jeff Sonderman will leave the Washington, D.C., news site TBD to take over Poynter.org’s mobile and social media coverage.

Looking back at the first days of this blog, it is amazing how much has changed, how many of the issues facing us now were clear even then, and how much work there still is to do.

When the iPad was announced, we were still developing the goals for this blog. It was obvious that mobile was the “next big thing” in journalism, but tablets were still an unknown quantity, Android phones hadn’t taken off, and the check-in craze spurred on by Foursquare was just beginning. Read more


News.me launches iPad aggregator with AP, New York Times, AOL as media partners

The news aggregator News.me launched Thursday morning as a subscription iPad app, with support from more than 20 major media outlets.

Betawork’s News.Me news aggregator is expected to launch on the iPad soon.

Built by Betaworks, the app aggregates and filters news from a wide variety of sources, but will pay a licensing fee to official media partners in return for use of their content. Articles from those partners has been reformatted for the “best reading experience” on the iPad according to an FAQ on the company’s website.

Consumer access to the app costs $0.99 a week, or $34.99 a year. Partners will receive a “fixed fee” for each unique page view; the company has not publicly stated what that fee will be.

News.me has been in development since last year and was submitted to the iTunes store in March. Read more


Demand Media shares drop as it defends eHow decline

Forbes | All Things Digital
Jeff Bercovici notes that shares of Demand fell below $18 this morning, after reports that eHow.com’s visibility on Google search results has declined as a result of changes to the search engine’s algorithms. SEO firm Sistrix found eHow’s search placement had dropped 66 percent in April. Demand denies the reports, saying the drop is “significantly overstated.”
Demand execs earn $950,000+ in bonuses (paidContent) Read more


LA Times, TechCrunch introduce Facebook comments, but it’s not for everyone

Facebook added some features to its commenting system this week, but for publishers the tool is still a work in progress.

Launched in March, the system lets readers use their Facebook logins to comment on other websites. The company reports 50,000 sites are now using it. Among those early adopters are TechCrunch, SB Nation, Sporting News, Examiner.com and the Los Angeles Times blogs.

Facebook claims its commenting tool can improve conversation and increase traffic to participating sites. In March the company reported that SB Nation had seen its Facebook referral traffic increase 400 percent. Sporting News publisher Jeff Price told BusinessWeek that Facebook comments had improved the conversation, and the perception of the site among advertisers.

Officially, the tool is known as the Comments Box and it is one of many efforts to extend the social network’s integration into the wider Web, which include the Facebook Connect authentication protocol. Read more

Kindle with Special Offers - Two Offers

Publishers should follow Amazon’s lead and offer subsidized tablets

Amazon.com will begin selling ad-subsidized Kindles on May 3, and it may be time for newspapers to revisit the same business model.

Kindle with Special Offers - Two Offers
A new subsidized version of the Kindle will include ads and special offers.

Consider the original Kindle, launched in 2007 and sold at the time for $399. Now a subsidized Wi-Fi version, featuring screensaver and home screen ads, will be available for $114. As MG Siegler notes at TechCrunch, $99 would seem a bit easier to market, but perhaps that price point is being held back for the holiday season.

For publishers struggling to figure out how to make money on mobile platforms, Amazon may be on to something. One of the challenges of selling content on smartphones and tablets is the cost of ownership. Read more


The New Yorker uses a ‘like-gate’ to find fans of long-form journalism on Facebook

The New Yorker is experimenting with Facebook this week, making a 12,000-word piece by Jonathan Franzen free behind a “like-gate” for a limited time.

When users “Like” the magazine’s Facebook page, they’re given access to the “Fans Only” section. This week, that includes the full text of Franzen’s story “Farther Away.” It’s also available for subscribers on The New Yorker’s website.

The New Yorker Facebook
The New Yorker this week put a Jonathan Franzen essay on Facebook for free, but behind a “like-gate.”

In a phone conversation, spokeswoman Alexa Cassanos told me that the Franzen story was chosen because it represents the type of writing The New Yorker is known for. It is therefore likely to attract readers who will be interested in the magazine long-term.

“We would much rather have a few thousand fans who really enjoy the content and stick with it,” Cassanos said, rather than 10,000 with a more casual interest. Read more


Bing’s new iPad app is a newspaper in disguise

Microsoft’s new Bing iPad app, released Thursday, does more than search — it begins to remake the newspaper experience in digital form.

The app is not being marketed as a news platform, but journalists should consider it one because it offers a great local information utility for the iPad age.

The app is already receiving high marks from consumers. Out of 621 ratings in the iTunes store by Friday, 524 give it the top score of 5 stars. In fact, the comments are so positive I spot-checked a dozen for any obvious astroturfing. As far as I could tell, the feedback is legitimate. For instance, from iTunes user Scott Daly:

This iPad app made me a true Bing believer!
This has to be one of the most beautiful looking and helpful apps I now have and it’s free.

Read more
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Twitter’s new search favors Groupon’s many accounts over local media organization accounts

Unveiled this week, Twitter’s newly upgraded search engine promises to deliver more relevant “who to follow” suggestions for users. But in my examination, the results appeared inconsistent, if not biased, when searching for the best Twitter sources in specific U.S. cities.

For example, when testing the new feature using 20 different city names as search terms, Groupon placed near the top of the new recommendations with amazing consistency given its relatively modest popularity and influence on Twitter.

By comparison, many accounts owned by major media organizations often did not rank as high in the search results, despite having significantly larger and engaged audiences.

The results raise questions about the criteria Twitter is using to rank recommended accounts, and what — if any — optimizations media companies can implement to improve their search rankings. Read more


Six things aggregator app News.me must do to beat Zite, Flipboard

Personalized news app Zite made headlines last week for a minor skirmish with a group of major publishers, but the personalized aggregation app expected to make news any day now is Betawork’s News.me.

News.me, which has been in beta for a few months, is expected in the iTunes Store very soon. Flipboard, Pulse and the more recent Zite are popular on the iPad, but no one has yet cornered the market for a tablet-focused, personalized news aggregator. So the question is: What will News.me need to do to grab an audience?

I have not had advance access to the app, but after reading up on it and using many of its competitors, I’ll be looking for these six features when I download News.me from the iTunes store. Read more

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Zite incident shows why publishers need to enable automatic, controlled content distribution

In an era of free, frictionless content distribution, how can creators of that content be paid for their work?

The question was highlighted on Wednesday as 11 major media organizations — from Dow Jones Co. to Time — sent a letter to news aggregator Zite ordering the company to stop what the news outlets characterized as pervasive copyright infringement.

Zite pulls Web content from a wide variety of sites, reformats it, and displays it — without the ads — within its app. No one can argue about the infringement; Zite has already changed the way it presents the complainants’ content.

But presentation is not the reason consumers downloaded the iPad app 120,000 times in the first week. The real value of the app is its ability to predict which stories will appeal to each user. Read more

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