Latest news: you’re all snacked!

by Vincenzo Marino – translated by Roberta Aiello

Native advertising will not save newspapers

This week, Scott Karp, CEO of Publish2 (a company specializied in digital-publishing technologies) recalled the theme of native advertising, a kind of advertisement that in online newspapers promotes products and services through content similar to that hosted on the original site. Karp explains that native advertising could become the cutting edge of digital media because it is a system able to offer the added value of editorial care of insertion for investors – and even “salvation” for the future of printed newspapers. The author admits that a very similar system (the one of the advertorial) has always existed in the print media. Nevertheless, old headlines, still strong for brand value and solid local presence, can benefit from this system working in synergy with companies to create cross-media advertising strategies, helping them to invest and work in a media landscape with known characteristics. According to the post, it is a new source of revenue which should be able to “save the newspapers” on its own.

Mathew Ingram on PaidContent is critical on this point. First of all, he refers to the ethical objection raised by Jeff Jarvis (who answers incisively, on Twitter, with a “NO!” when asked if native advertising will save newspapers), regarding  the possibility that the press will offer misleading content to its readers (here is a debate on the subject). The thesis of the CEO of Publish2 has been challenged, however, by a more specious point of view. The advertorials,  Ingram explains, have never been able to save the newspaper market by themselves. Therefore, it would seem rather difficult to believe that they can begin to do so now given that the industry seems to have very different perspectives to look at than that of  print survival through advertisements which has been in continuous decline for years. “The past can’t buy the future for newspapers”, John Paton, CEO of Digital Media First, reminds us. If it is sure that from the point of view of integration between marketing and news, newsrooms can do more (breaking down what is called the “church/state barrier”), it is much more difficult that such a strategy can ensure long life in a market that is dying.

Ingram, however, does not forget to emphasize the fact that Karp works for a company that sells systems for the integration of native advertising for editorial platforms, “which might explain his interest in this solution”.

How to evaluate the success of a post?

Native advertising was not the only ‘direct confrontation’ of the week. On Fortune, Gregory Galant, CEO of MuckRack, has faced the issue of evaluation of the results of editorial products, showing how social metrics (of which we spoke last week) might be key tools for the present and decisive for the future of online journalism. When the share buttons are included in articles – as is now the practice, the CEO reminds us – the performance of each of these can be recorded and analyzed. In this way the author can face a new challenge that is revolutionary compared to traditional production. He learns to be judged in real time and act accordingly from the editorial point of view, focusing on content that is able to intercept the positive reaction of the readers. Galant compares the classic and the unidirectional production to an Olympic race without data and quantitative analysis, in which everyone competes against everyone and where the score can be kept just by chatting with colleagues, earning their compliments. In the age of print no one could have known the effective influence of one’s own article, the author continues. Now, it is possible.

Alex Halperin on Salon disagrees with the CEO of MuckRack. He reminds Galant that there are still jobs, party invitations, prizes, television appearances, concrete signs able to certify the success of one’s own work, and that social media are not the only useful method to quantify its effectiveness. As with the debate on native advertising, in this case too the working nature of the author who launches the ‘provocation’ has been called into question in the reply. The theory, Halperin explains, “would have had more resonance if coming from a man with a different bio”, trying to focus on the role of Galant in MuckRack, a news and social media aggregation service for journalists. According to a study conducted by Oriella PR Network, half of the surveyed journalists measure success via unique visits, with a propensity of French reporters (77% of those surveyed) analyzing social data.

Journalists and social networks: love is in the air

The relationship between journalists and social networks has become almost natural, both in terms of the collection process and the discussion and sharing of news. This week, the study mentioned previously, entitled “The New Normal for News“, has analyzed this relationship by studying the online behavior of more than 500 journalists in the world (Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany , India, Italy, New Zealand, Russia, Spain, Sweden, UK and USA); 59% of the surveyed journalists admit to using Twitter regularly, with a growth of 12% over last year, and 51% use social platforms to find news, although not relying blindly on them (the figure falls to 25% when the source is considered ‘unknown’). Also interesting is the data that shows increased working hours (46%) and less and less competitive salaries. Additionally, 39% of those surveyed define themselves digital-first (especially in Italy, Russia, Sweden and India).

Moreover, the web is full of best practice for journalists on how to approach these tools. As the time goes by, their peculiarity is that, due to the continuous experimentation which takes place in the newsrooms (as we saw last week), they become more and more precise, and seem to want to hit exactly some habits typical of the online news audience. The most recent advice comes from the Conference of Vocus #demand13 by Jay Rosen, who condenses in 10 points his “social media tips“. “Don’t be a jerk”, share good stuff, create solid content and stay credible are fundamental rules, trying to focus on one’s own “specialties” and own niche of reference without hoping for magic formulas that help to become ‘viral’ because “there are none”, Rosen says. This week also Steve Ladurantaye, reporter of the Globe and Mail, has published his 26 ‘golden rules’, which open and close significantly with “You are one tweet away from being fired”.

Readers don’t read, they ‘snack’

Mobiles Republic has just published the results of a study conducted this year on the reading habits of News Republic, the app produced by the company. More than 8,000 surveyed draw a clear picture of how the consultation of online content is evolving and what is now the trend, namely “snacking” (“People aren’t news reading: they are news snacking”) rather than reading. There is no more ‘reading’ of the news in the classical sense: readers prefer to have many small tidbits of news over a longer time period and on mobile devices; 75% of those surveyed admitted to reading the news more than once a day, 70% for tablet owners.

The most widely used format – according to research – is the aggregator, preferred by 73% of those surveyed, a major increase compared with the 33% of 2011. In the same period, the liking of branded news applications, especially those of leading national dailies, collapsed from 60 to 40 percent. Social networks prevail as news aggregators: 43% of readers use Facebook to check news updates, an increase of seven percentage points compared with the 2011 data, confirming the fact – Gilles Raymond, CEO of Mobiles Republic concludes – that media organizations “must have multiple streams of mobile news distribution in order to reach the mobile audiences and continue to thrive”. All of the data can be seen in this infographic.