Here are the best articles that I’ve read during the last week:
Following the annual tradition on this site for the last post of the year, here is a list of my personal favourites from the last twelve months. Continue reading My Favourite Gadgets, Books, Apps and Awards in 2014
Many organisations are finding themselves asking “What is Digital?” It’s a difficult question which sounds easy at first. After all, isn’t everything that we do today that involves electronics, digital in some shape or form?
If an organisation has a CTO (Chief Technology Officer), why does it also need a CDO (Chief Digital Officer)? If an organisation already has an IT department, why does it need a digital one too?
So what is digital?
To me, digital is a mindset. In the 1990’s we’d have called it a paradigm. It’s all about thinking slightly differently to classic IT. Continue reading What is Digital?
If you use Google Analytics to measure the number of visitors to your website, you will love the new Google Chrome toolbar add-on. And if you have multiple sites, it will make your job even easier.
The Chrome Extension sits quietly while you browse, until you visit a site of which you have access to the analytics. At this point, a dashboard at the top of the browser window shows various page stats. You can also minimise these stats to just display real-time information for each page.
Whilst doing some research at work on innovation within the Publishing industry, a colleague of mine found a leaked report from the New York Times from March this year (the full article is at the end of this page).
At 94 pages, it’s a must-read for anyone within Publishing. I took 11 key points from the document:
- (page 16) Hallmarks of disruptors… number 4: “Initially inferior to existing products.” This is so true. Almost every time we work on a new innovative project, there will always be someone criticising that product A does things better, or product B is more comprehensive. The answer is twofold – firstly, you can have something more superior, but it will take a lot longer and cost a lost more money; and secondly, it’s part and parcel of developing something new. Remember Twitter’s outages? Remember how basic Facebook looked?
- Only a third of NYT readers visit the homepage. Just think of the effort in designing the homepage! Google is great at providing users links directly into articles, and users share articles not homepages. This is the proof. Continue reading 11 lessons about innovation from the New York Times
The Olympics is like London buses – you don’t see anything about it for a while, and suddenly you get several opportunities at the same time.
On Monday I was very fortunate to meet with Alex Balfour, who was the Head of New Media at London 2012. If you haven’t seen Alex’s summary of London 2012 on slideshare yet, stop reading this and take a read straight away.
So I saw Alex on Monday, who for a man who has had one of the most stressful jobs in Digital Media for the last three years, didn’t look any worse for it (no grey hair or hair loss!); and this evening I was invited to an event hosted by Simon La Fosse where the guest speaker was Gerry Pennell, the CIO of London 2012.
Gerry spoke for around thirty minutes, which flew by quickly, and then there were literally dozens, dozens of questions from the audience. The thing that struck me was how each member of the audience was so polite and started off by congratulating Gerry and his team on such a successful event. This was refreshing because the IT community doesn’t congratulate one another – IT has such a high expectation that if it works, well, it’s expected to, and anything less is something to complain about.
Gerry described how important digital was such a key component of delivering the Games. Actually, he wanted to stick to ‘just’ the huge undertaking of delivering a live events service, but his presentation kept coming back to digital consumers. All wonderfully consumer focussed.
Some of the other key points he covered:
- Just under a quarter of LOCOG’s budget went to IT
- It was easy to motivate his team to get things done – everyone knew about the deadline, rather than many other IT organisations who have a degree of lethargy and motivation issues
- Gerry’s teams had to create their own requirements four years ago, because the rest of the organisation didn’t know what it would want back then
- Preparation was key. The team prepared via a large number of test events, scenario planning, disaster recovery planning, and so on
- LOCOG knew that they were going to have a rough time with the press. He told a story about the day that the BlackBerry Messaging service went down, and a journalist in his office blamed Gerry for the outage!
- The threat of cyber-attacks was taken extremely seriously, and some politicians were involved on this subject. There were six actual significant attacks during the Games which were dealt with, and Gerry was paid his compliments to their Content Delivery Network
- To resolve IT issues immediately, rather than the usual IT call-fix resolution timescales, they had to ‘saturate’ the stadia with support staff and equipment – they would replace desktops and equipment rather than problem solve
- Despite all the IT infrastructure, there is still a huge reliance on paper in the stadia – referees and other games staff wanted/ needed to have a sheet of paper. The last two Olympics have printed 50 million sheets of paper, and in London they produced 16 million. A full box of office printer paper has 2,500 sheets, so that’s still almost 6,500 boxes of paper!
- LOCOG were shocked at the amount of mobile traffic. And this traffic wanted live results. For the first time, London was able to provide point by point score updates (as opposed to game or match results) – and the peak traffic period was the Murray final, where mobile users wanted point by point updates about the match
- There were 40 university sandwich placements who worked for the LOCOG IT organisation. I had a sandwich placement in my third year at university, and I can only begin to imagine what an experience the Olympics must have been for these once-in-a-lifetime lucky students
Someone in the audience asked about the huge amount of data that LOCOG had collected during the summer, and whether there was a Big Data opportunity. Gerry answered that the team was disbanded straight after the Paralympics, so there wasn’t much of an opportunity or business desire (because the business was dismantled as well!)
We are seeing a world where the value of content is continually diminishing – there are so many sources of content that it’s easy to move to someone who’s giving it away for free as soon as one source starts charging. Technology also makes it easy to bypass traditional content funding models – such as the ability to fast forward during adverts on pre-recorded TV programmes.
Sport will continually increasing in value though. By its nature, it’s time sensitive, so it’s usually watched live. This makes the advertising much more valuable – for instance, think about the infamous Super Bowl ads.
This in turn makes the content more valuable – and one of the key reasons why the English Premiership’s rights rose 71% this year to over a billion pounds per season.
Sport – it’s only a game. Really???
It’s embarrassing when you forget a birthday, and it’s double embarrassing when you forget your own. On 16 January this blog turned two years’ old.
As has become custom – well, I did it last year so I’ll do it again, here are some of the traffic stats.
Before I begin, thank you and all the visitors who have been coming to the site.
This is a comparison between the year up to 17 January 2010 and 2011:
| 18 Jan 2011 to
17 Jan 2012
| 18 Jan 2010 to
17 Jan 2011
So, whilst I apologise for not writing as many posts as last year, the ones I did write seem to be more interesting!
These figures don’t include the RSS feed readers or search engines which keep crawling the site.
I said last year that my aims for 2011/2 were to double the traffic and have more people commenting. The table above shows the first objective was achieved. As for the number of comments, this is measure using the blog tool (Posterous).
My aims for next year is to keep growing the traffic by the same amount – here’s to over 7,500 visitors in the next year.
Once again, if you have any recommendations or articles you’d like to see, please let me know by adding a comment below or contacting me directly. As soon as I get requests I usually act upon them within a couple of days.
Digital businesses include NYTimes.com, BostonGlobe.com, Boston.com, About.com, other Company Web sites and related digital products. In the third quarter of 2011, total digital advertising revenues decreased 4.5 percent to $74.8 million from $78.3 million. Digital advertising revenues at the News Media Group increased 6.2 percent to $50.3 million from $47.4 million due to growth in retail and national display advertising. Digital advertising revenues as a percentage of total Company advertising revenues were 28.6 percent for the third quarter of 2011 compared with 27.3 percent in the third quarter of 2010.
In the first nine months of 2011, the Company’s total digital advertising revenues increased 0.9 percent to $242.9 million from $240.7 million. Digital advertising revenues at the News Media Group increased 12.2 percent to $162.4 million from $144.7 million. Digital advertising revenues as a percentage of total Company advertising revenues were 28.2 percent for the first nine months of 2011 compared with 26.3 percent in the first nine months of 2010.
Paid digital subscribers to The Times digital subscription packages, e-readers and replica editions totaled approximately 324,000 as of the end of the third quarter of 2011. In addition to these paid digital subscribers, as of the end of the third quarter of 2011, The Times had more than 100,000 highly engaged users sponsored by Ford Motor Company’s luxury brand, Lincoln, who have free access to NYTimes.com and smartphone apps until the end of the year, and approximately 800,000 home-delivery subscribers with linked digital accounts, who receive free digital access. In total, The Times had paid and sponsored relationships with over 1.2 million digital users as of the end of the third quarter of 2011.
Source: The New York Times Company
- In the last quarter, there were 1.2 million registered users, of whom 324,000 paid something, and 100,000 were paid for by Ford (a great subscription model as long as there are no catches for either party) and 800,000 were covered by their print subscription. In other words, they have a churn of about 25%.
- The site has 45 million unique visitors per month as of January 2011 – it’s interesting that they use comScore to quote that 45 million. ComScore use an estimated data model, as opposed to NYT using their own actual data.
- Anyway, 45 million unique users and 324,000 have paid something – that’s a conversion rate of less than one percent, however paid for content is still very much in its infancy.
- Those 45 million users probably don’t include Smartphone users or e-readers (hats off to ComScore if that can get that data, however I suspect they can’t).
- Doing some extremely rough sums, subscriptions are 99 cents for the first 4 weeks and then $3.75 per week thereafter. Let’s ignore the special offer price and let’s assume Ford pay a full $3.75 per user. Ignoring the print subscribers who get the digital edition for free, that’s a total revenue of $1.59 million per week. Let’s assume NYT earned this revenue throughout the entire quarter (12 weeks), that’s a total of $19 million for the quarter.
- Digital advertising across the group (and this includes a number of other websites and newspapers) generated $74.8 million.
Lessons to take away from this quarterly statement
- The premium digital content model still has a way to go – advertising still generated four times the revenue as subscribers.
- ‘Wholesale’ or ‘sponsored’ user bases are key drivers for the number of paid for subscribers – Ford pay for 100,000 users and NYT have 324,000 paying individual subscribers. Think of the effort that goes into the Ford deal compared to the direct to consumer sales effort.
My anger with TV audience figures has just been further inflamed. I’ve just read that Red or Black lost 1.8 million TV viewers last night. It’s big news in the media news at the moment.
1.8 million TV viewers. This is calculated from BARB, which distribute TV set top boxes which analyse TV usage in a few homes around the country. These figures are then extrapolated to the UK population – each set top box represents 5,000 viewers.
So 1.8 million fewer viewers is actually 360 people. 360 people didn’t want a TV programme last night, which has commercial repercussions across the industry.
I still can’t fathom how such an antiquated system is used to define the UK’s £9bn television industry (that figure is from 2005).
I propose that all set top boxes – Virgin, Sky, BT Vision, etc. are required to send viewing stats back to a central location, probably Ofcom and actual figures are used, not extrapolated figures. We could go one step further and require all digital TVs to send usage stats back to Ofcom too.
It is unthinkable that a commercial website operation would not implement an analytics provider as a measuring tool – and have to pay for it themself. Quite how this happens in the TV industry is very strange.
Photo courtesy of Stefan on Flickr
If you’re looking for a “How to” guide to online or digital marketing, I recommend the following graphic (care of Unbounce). I’ve sent this to many people by email and Twitter as the best starting point for any online marketing campaign. It doesn’t necessarily need a large advertising budget behind it – it just needs some time.
There’s so much information in the graphic that I’ve tried printing it on several A3 sheets but it didn’t look particularly great. My brother-in-law (thanks to PhotoPaperDirect) has managed to print it as a 6 foot long print on a screen printer however there resolution isn’t good enough to remain clear (it’s OK, but not brilliant).