A group weblog about the intersection of news & technology

As Social Media Grows, What Will Become of the Plain Old Banner Ad?

“The death of display advertising has been greatly exaggerated,” Randall Rothenberg, CEO of the Interactive Advertising Bureau, said last week at the trade organization’s MIXX conference.

True, rectangular “banner” ads, in-stream video commercials and other so-called online “display” advertising accounted for more than a third of the nearly $23 billion spent on Internet advertising last year, according to David Silverman in a PricewaterhouseCoopers report prepared with the IAB.

But there was another 800-lb gorilla in the room at MIXX. Social media such as Twitter and Facebook are rapidly becoming venues where marketers connect with customers and spend dollars that previously may have gone to more traditional Internet ads.

Dick Costolo, who was just named Twitter CEO, talked about the power of the platform and its new advertising efforts, such as Promoted Tweets and Promoted Trends. Investor Yossi Vardi, who helped launch the ICQ chat standard, likened the future of social media to “the future of civilization,” quoting Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos as saying the likelihood you’ll buy a car is 500 percent higher if a friend recommends it. Read more

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Monday, Sep. 13, 2010

Rafat Ali Seeks to Re-imagine Travel Guide Industry for Mobile

After traveling around the world for the last two years, paidContent founder Rafat Ali has a new venture. In a separate Q&A, he describes why he wants to avoid the business of covering news.

Here, he discusses how the travel guide industry piqued his interest and how he started Guidism.com to explore whether the industry can be re-imagined for mobile devices.

Dorian Benkoil: Could you tell me about what you’re working on?

Rafat Ali: One of the sectors that I’m deeply interested in, and very likely my next venture, is going to be in the travel guidebook sector.

And that’s born out of a few things. One is, as people who have been following me on Facebook and Twitter know, I have been traveling for the last 24 months. I have been to five different countries and all kinds of various places, and as a result I think it’s fair to say that I’ve caught more than the travel bug, and have also been using all kinds of guides, whether it’s books or research online, or a bunch of mobile apps. Read more

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Thursday, Sep. 09, 2010

Public Media API Could Be ‘Engine of Innovation’ for Journalism

Journalists from American Public Media, Public Radio Exchange, Public Radio International, PBS and NPR have spent months scoping out how they would create an online pipeline to share and distribute public media content on any platform.

Their goal is to create a “Public Media Platform” — an open API that would allow public media organizations across the U.S. to share content with one another, with application developers, and with independent content creators and publishers.

Along with giving people greater access to content, the Public Media Platform would make it easier to aggregate and package different news organizations’ stories on major news events such as the BP oil disaster and the earthquake in Haiti.

“If you really want to follow a story across all the public media producers, there’s no simple way to do that, and there needs to be,” Joaquin Alvarado, senior vice president for digital innovation at American Public Media, said in a phone interview. Read more


Thursday, Aug. 26, 2010

How to Use TimeFlow to Manage, Analyze Chronological Data

As a reporter at The Washington Post, Sarah Cohen was frequently frustrated with the dearth of tools for working with chronological data. Now the Knight Professor of the Practice of Journalism and Public Policy at Duke University, Cohen looks for ways to help journalists be more efficient.

TimeFlow, a free and open-source data analysis tool, is the first version (still alpha) of a project that she has been working on to make it easier for reporters to look at data over periods of time. Unlike some of the alternatives, such as the SIMILE Timeline and Dipity, TimeFlow is not built to present the data online.

Cohen worked with programmers Fernanda Viégas and Martin Wattenberg (who previously worked on Many Eyes and are now at Google) to describe what features the tool would need.

“I felt really strongly about the ability to look at data on a calendar or time line,” Cohen said in a phone interview. Read more


Wednesday, Aug. 18, 2010

How Poligraft Can Help Journalists and Consumers Discover Connections in the News

Poligraft is a new tool released by the Sunlight Foundation that tries to add political context to news stories. It scans news articles for the names of donors, corporations, lobbyists and politicians and shows how they are connected by contributions.

It’s easy to use: Just submit the URL or text of a news article, and Poligraft will create a sidebar containing the relevant information from data provided by the Center for Responsive Politics and the National Institute for Money in State Politics.

The sidebar shows the aggregated contributions from an organization to a politician (for instance, from various employees of one company). The second section, “points of influence,” shows campaign contributions received by politicians, as well as contributions made by organizations. You can click on the names of people or organizations to learn more about them, such as who their contributors are or what lobbying firms they’ve hired.

Poligraft has a handy bookmarklet so you can use the tool to analyze any story from the browser. Read more


Friday, Aug. 13, 2010

20 SXSW Interactive Panels That Journalists Should Vote For

This year, for the first time ever, more people attended South by Southwest Interactive than the music festival, which has attracted people to Austin, Texas, every spring since 1987.

Though South by Southwest Interactive is best known for highlighting emerging technologies such as Twitter, many panels this year focused on journalism. And many of the 2,344 panels proposed for the 2011 conference have a strong journalism component.

SXSW opened up the voting for the proposed panels last week, asking people to pick the sessions they’d like to see at the festival, which will be held March 11-15, 2011. Voters can search the panels by categories, including journalism, online video, social networking and user-generated content.

Several of the 49 journalism-related panel proposals revolve around how technology is changing the storytelling process and why it’s important for journalists to think like “geeks,” or at least come to a better understanding of how programmers think and work. Read more


Monday, Aug. 09, 2010

Chat Replay: TBD Editors Discuss Decisions in Building DC-Area News Site

Early Monday morning, after months of preparation, Allbritton Communications launched its new Washington, D.C.-area news site. Now that the site is live, users can see how TBD is relying on aggregation, geocoding and community engagement to tell users what is going on in Washington.

At 1 p.m. Monday, I will talk to Jim Brady, president of digital strategy for Allbritton, and Steve Buttry, director of community engagement, about decisions they made in building the new site. Come with questions.

<a href=”http://www.coveritlive.com/mobile.php/option=com_mobile/task=viewaltcast/altcast_code=2d9bf9fb84″ >TBD Editors Discuss Decisions Made in Building DC-Area News Site</a> Read more


Wednesday, Aug. 04, 2010

What Web Analytics Can – And Can’t – Tell You about Your Site’s Traffic and Audience

It’s often said the Web is more measurable than any other medium. That’s probably true. But trying to actually understand what’s being measured and translate the different types of measurement into a coherent whole can make your head spin.

A lot of sites fixate on what their Web analytics, packages like Google Analytics and Ominiture, tell them. They look at stats on “page views,” “visits” and “unique visitors” and measure their progress in terms of how much traffic increases over time.

They might look at “engagement” stats like “time on site” and “page views per visit” to glean how much people are enjoying the site after they come in for their visit.

While those stats can be a fine way to get a handle on relative growth, they’re not true measures of the number of people coming to a site. And they’re also measures that many advertisers won’t accept.

Let’s explore what Web analytics can, and can’t, tell you. Read more


Monday, Aug. 02, 2010

4 Digital Tools to Improve Your Government Coverage

Monday and Tuesday, about 40 journalists are gathering at Poynter to learn how they can use free digital services to cover government more effectively. They’ll learn how to share and annotate documents, share data on politicians and lobbyists, understand voting patterns and create data visualizations.

We live blogged four presentations about:

  • Sunlight Foundation: How to use data to cover politicians, lobbyists and campaign contributors
  • Tableau: How to use data visualization to tell interactive stories

The live blogs are archived below. You also can view a live stream of the seminar through 4 p.m. ET today.

Archived blog from the Tableau presentation:

<a href=”http://www.coveritlive.com/mobile.php/option=com_mobile/task=viewaltcast/altcast_code=5557d90f58″ >Liveblogging Today: 4 Digital Tools to Improve Your Government Coverage</a>

Archived blog from the DocumentCloud, Sunlight Foundation and Patchwork Nation presentations:
 <a href=”http://www.coveritlive.com/mobile.php/option=com_mobile/task=viewaltcast/altcast_code=b2402fef21″ >Liveblogging Today: 4 Digital Tools to Improve Your Government Coverage</a> Read more


Thursday, July 29, 2010

7 Ways to Use Facebook to Merge News with the Social Web

Although many news organizations know they should incorporate Facebook into their social media strategies, so far they’ve had to rely on independent consultants to tell them what works. This week, however, Facebook outlined best practices on how news organizations can connect with the site’s enormous and highly engaged user base.

The findings are the result of a several-month long study by an internal team that examined Facebook usage at major news organizations such as CNN, The New York Times, and Univision.

Because Facebook boasts 500 million active monthly users and an average monthly time-on-site of around seven hours, integrating Facebook into your site could translate into substantial additional traffic. Tools such as Like buttons, Activity Streams and LiveStream can keep users clicking through stories on a site. And the Insights analytics tool provides valuable demographic information.

After implementing various combinations of Facebook tools on their sites, ABC News saw a 190 percent increase in referral traffic, Life magazine’s referrals increased by 130 percent, Scribd’s user registrations went up by 50 percent, and Dailymotion saw as many as 250,000 users engaged with a single video. Read more