Archives for category: Making Money

Steve Outing, “Stop the Presses” columnist and online media consultant just launched a new site aimed at those looking for ideas to increase news website readership and make money.

Not all of Outing’s recommendations are earthshaking, but the comments will probably prove to be the true goldmine.

On a post about showing the numbers associated with “most emailed” stories to show weight and scale in addition to popularity, commenter Dave Bullard notes that the numbers are also a form of audience approval. Bullard writes:

“Perhaps you find a place on the home page for comments from readers, as in, ‘This is a great resource! Beats the paper six ways to Sunday. Keep up the good work!’

“Rotate those comments, and reinforce them by sending the commenter a little piece of branded swag.”

The editorial side might hate it, but think about the last time you went to a movie because your newspaper’s reviewers gave it a thumbs up.

Get in on the ground floor and join in the discussions.

By coincidence, Jeff Jarvis at BuzzMachine was also thinking money today.

In his latest post, Jarvis suggests everyone take a step back and try to summarize specific problems your business faces before charging ahead with strategies and solutions.

Engineers use this “define the problem, then create solutions” approach, Jarvis notes. So do lawyers and economists, and they’re coming up with creative, workable solutions all the time.

Think about it: What, specifically, are the hurdles your news organization faces? Don’t think of answers yet. Just carefully form the question and post it as a comment either here, or on BuzzMachine.

By the way, Jarvis is organizing a follow-up to last year’s Networked Journalism Summit

. This year’s event in May will focus on business models. Details TK.

I’ve been saying this for a while now: Websites can no longer rely solely on online ads to replace their shrinking offline revenue streams. What’s needed are smart acquisition and diverse partnering strategies.

Tim O’Reilly spoke about just that today at the Tools of Change conference. Joe Grimm sent an update. —Chrys

One of the most powerful words in the English language is also a buzzword at this week’s O’Reilly Tools of Change conference in New York. That word is free, as in free content.

Free content, or audience expectation of it, is bedeviling all media, not just book publishers like those attending the conference.

Tim O’Reilly Addresses Tools of Change ConferenceO’Reilly Media founder and CEO Tim O’Reilly – you might consider him to be the host of the conference – took the stage to talk about how his company deals with free and how other media can.

The big fallacy in free, O’Reilly said, is that the advertiser-supported model of free content is too simplistic. Free, O’Reilly said, is complicated. He attributed the observation to Dilbert creator Scott Adams, the first cartoonist to go to the Internet in big ways.

O’Reilly said it is becoming increasingly important for media companies to develop revenue streams apart from advertising.

His company draws revenue streams out of the pools of users its products – technical manuals, originally – create.

“I’ve been thinking about this for a long time because publishing is my original core business.” O’Reilly said.

In a reconfigured word, he said, his company’s core products are more abstract qualities such as mission, brand and community.

These pour out revenue through sponsorships content, events like this week’s conference, subscriptions to online information and big-ticket premium services and products.

People are driven to those products by free, used as a strategic tool.

“I probably spend too much time on my blog,” O’Reilly said, “but I am actually driving my overall business with free.”

The way forward, O’Reilly said, will be diversified companies that provide a range of services – some of them for free. “Don’t be afraid of free,” he said. “Figure out how to use it.”

This Sunday is the biggest U.S. TV broadcasting event of the year.

It’s not the Grammys, the Emmys or the Oscars — it’s the Super Bowl.

This year, the event also looks to be a huge online ad-play as well, though many of the Web spots will posted for free, according to

AOL plans to make the ads available “soon,” but marketing consultant Ian Schafer came out of the gate today with an early peek of all the clips he could find.

Also, PCWorld reports HeyNielsen will use its youthquake focus group to rate and rank the ads. The results should be interesting.

OK! magazine broke the story heard ’round the world: Britney’s 16-year-old little sister is pregnant. Thing is, OK! chose to break it online.

Yes, every outlet eventually picked up the nut graf, showed the same Nickelodeon clips and set stills. But OK! magazine was cited each and every time as the organization to get the get.

The publisher trumpeted the scoop with an exclamation point-filled message to advertisers, and boasted of its celeb news primacy, according to Dylan Stableford at Folio.

It was obnoxious, maybe, but in the hypercompetitive world of celebrity news, perfectly justified.

The two things they got wrong? Nowhere in the message did the publisher talk about the online advertising opportunity. And, according to Stableford, OK! forgot to buy Google keywords:

“It also appears that bought ‘OK magazine’ as a Google keyword, displaying a link under search results that reads “JAMIE SPEARS PREGNANT.”

To top it off? Ironically, the publisher’s message was sent by email.

In 2004, Wired magazine editor Chris Anderson wrote an article suggesting media should focus on the long tail — small niches — instead of the big subjects.

The idea took off in news, most often interpreted as a move toward hyperlocal coverage online. The Washington Post‘s LoudounExtra most often cited, but there are other niche examples as well, including WCCO-TV, the dominant network TV news station in Minneapolis, and KCRW-FM, public radio based in Santa Monica, Calif.

During a Second Life interview last year, Anderson stretched his “Long Tail” theory into a discussion about technology giving people the power to create information for free.

Most notably, Anderson said, “There are two (long tails) in content. One is broad appeal down to narrow appeal. The other is new vs. old. So the LT revenues that you describe as being slow mostly refer to the second, the monetization of archives over time.

“The other big point to make is that we’re not just talking about a monetary economy. Most of the content created in the LT these days — from blogs to web video — is done for free, with no expectation of financial return. There are plenty of business opportunities in *aggregating* that content, but the money doesn’t necessarily accrue to the creators.”

Earlier this month, Anderson talked about “the emerging market of free” at Nokia World.

It’s an interesting yet potentially scary idea if applied to the news business. Already, we know aggregators like Google, Yahoo, Digg, etc., are profiting from media outlet output, which Web users essentially get for free. But without some fundamental changes to the outlets’ distribution strategy, where will the money to pay news workers come from?

You could argue that journalists are aggregators, interpreters and analyzers of information, and the inherent value in what we can be translated into real dollars that users should be willing to pay at least something for. After Radiohead‘s “In Rainbows” experiment, though, I’m not certain how optimistic I should be.

Scott Karp at Editor & Publisher has written a post that follows on something I’ve been discussing with others offline: Google has a vested interested in ensuring there’s “good” (or at least popular) content on the Web.

Google bought YouTube last year and now wants to make a lot of money to pay off the purchase and sustain its business. The problem so far has been figuring out how to make money off other people’s content, whether copyrighted or just weird or bad. Google couldn’t put audience clusters together and advertisers freaked out.

Then in May, Google opened up its YouTube ad revenue stream to select partners — people who put original content on the site and attracted big subscriber numbers and pageviews. Here, finally, were the audience clusters advertisers were looking for.

The content partners, mostly big media organizations like Perez Hilton, CBS and National Geographic, have done well enough that YouTube announced Monday it is opening the ad stream to anyone living in the U.S. and Canada. (International users will get their chance soon, YouTube says.)

You still have to apply to be a partner, of course, but for anyone who’s got a knack for making short films, Web serials, vlogs or product ads, this is a chance to finally make some money.

Karp makes some excellent points about the intelligence of Google’s strategy. It’s sharing a small slice of its ad revenue pie with original content creators — avoiding the copyright infringment trap — while generating tremendous user loyalty and quantifiable audiences — something advertisers like — based on trusted brands and using the company’s core competency: search.

Since most of all content on the Web is found through search, you could say all search engines that depend on ad revenue have a vested interest in good content on the Web. For a news organization, however, the trick is figuring out how to siphon off more of the ad revenue stream.

Many of the larger news organizations and wire services have partner deals with the Big 5 search engines. What would happen if media collectively changed the terms, as Sam Zell suggested during a speech at Stanford Law earlier this year?

Sam Zell, soon to be owner of the Tribune Co., makes his own holiday presents for select friends and he’s got a website to prove it.

The 2007 gift isn’t up yet (of course) but you can see the music boxes that play songs with his original lyrics from years past.

Mark Zuckerberg apologized for the Beacon mess yesterday, and added a way for all social ads to be turned off — at least within Facebook.

But if you logon to the site, the “Privacy Settings for External Websites” page has a rather confusing message.

Facebook External Sites Privacy Page

On the one hand, the page says, “Please note that these settings only affect notifications on Facebook. You will still be notified on affiliate websites when they send stories to Facebook. You will be able to decline individual stories at that time.”

On the other, it says, “Don’t allow any websites to send stories to my profile.”

Clarity. I’d like clarity.

Computer Associates did some more digging around today and didn’t like what they found. While the privacy announcement is a good first move, they said, data that users now assume isn’t being transmitted still is, and Facebook has not put their privacy policy into their legal notice:

The silent transmission of data about actions on third-party websites to Facebook poses a serious risk, and must be mitigated by both prominent notice to the user, and a binding commitment on Facebook’s part to handle the data properly.

Nevertheless, yesterday’s announcement seemed to placate the masses. Caroline McCarthy at CNet News got some Beacon partner reaction.

Personally, I think what caused so many problems for Facebook’s Beacon launch was arrogance and perhaps greed. They’ve been through the privacy riot before, when news feeds were first introduced. They could have done better, it’s true. But given their past experience, they should have done better by putting their users, and not their advertising partners, first.

Public broadcasters will be gathering in Los Angeles in February for the annual IMA2008 conference.

This year’s conference lineup looks to have a lot of sessions that non-public media people might be interested in, such as:

  • how a single staff can manage the work of putting content on many platforms
  • best practices and new developments in using online services to cover emergencies (as exemplified by KPBS coverage of the California wildfires)
  • collaborating with “independent voices”
  • and, of course, covering the elections

Early registration deadline is Dec. 10. The conference runs from the Feb. 19-23 at the chi-chi Omni Hotel in downtown L.A.