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What trends are disrupting digital news and newsrooms in 2014 and beyond?

Trends disrupting breaking news online

Trends disrupting breaking news online

Will editors replace a newsworthy story, with content dictated by ad technology?

It’s a mind-bending thought, but it may happen faster than you think. And when it does, the bastions of breaking news will typically determine a good story by its potential eCPM value (revenue generated from every 1000 views per page), and less by its perceived news value. 

Everything is about to get a whole lot more scientific. Our traffic obsessed culture will be increasingly fueled by digital ad technology.

Real time digital news and the impact of advertising technology
The right content will be dictated by the right ad, at the right time, in the right context. What this means is that your future release will become a story, if the ads it can potentially match, will grab enough eyeballs. The shift could make the already blurred line, between news and advertising, even vaguer.

The Huffington Post is one of the first to clasp real time digital trends and is ripe for the next step. The giant news aggregator is built on a foundation of constantly tracking what drives the most traffic. A report from Columbia school of journalism stated; already today, the Huffington Post has more resources allocated to audience valuation than to content creation.

In many online news sites, writers are asked to keep an eye on dashboards, to track stories and headlines of real-time performances. Data analysis is fast becoming an essential skill for editors and content creators. They constantly need to review what “clicks” and what doesn’t and then adjust their stories.

Traffic is the new currency and in some online publisher corporation,s bonuses are already being tied to tracked performance.

Brand journalism leaps into mainstream publishing
At first brand journalism was all about brands creating content ripe for viral marketing. Then publishers such as Forbes launched their “Brand Voice” program over a year ago. (http://www.forbesmedia.com/brandvoice-digital/) Brand Voice is a channel for spreading branded thought-leadership content that wedges its posts in between Forbes news stories.

A few days ago the Guardian published a story on the launch of its new branded content division dubbed the ‘Guardian Lab’ (http://www.theguardian.com/gnm-press-office/guardian-launches-guardian-labs-with-unilever-partnership).

It was officially launched with a seven-figure deal with Unilever. The Guardian Lab’s rickety cosmetic term refers to commercial branded content, created to co-exist more naturally in the Guardian’s online news pages.  Under the Guardian Lab the content will be created by publisher’s own in-house writers.

These new native advertising formats are shedding an interesting light on where digital media is heading. It highlights publishers’ desperate plea for new revenue models.

The future real-time newsroom and publisher dashboard
In the race to track eyeballs and respond to trends, publishers rely on tools such as; Google Analytics, Google Mobile Analytics Alexa, a toolbar based on ranking and reach and Quantcast, which shows statistics on social popularity.

New real time digital news tracking tools
But a new set of tools are emerging to help the media industry respond to real time activity. Companies such as Parsely, Chartbeat and Visual Revenue are offering content writers and editors tools to act on events as they roll out.

These news tools are creating a new niche in the real time data tool box. Publishers can track how long users are reading a specific piece of content, where they go afterwards, and most importantly, what articles typically convert new users to regular ‘monetizable’ visitors.

Could these new real time tools help to resuscitate journalism practices?
Tony Haile, the CEO of Chartbeat claims that when you measure visitors’ behavior in real time, you can simply grasp what factors contribute to their chances of becoming a return visitor. Interestingly they found that people who read an article for three minutes return twice as often as those who just spend one minute perusing a piece.

This ‘engaged time’ factor is a metric that publishers should be addressing now. Impressions data is important but it cannot be a standalone measurement.

Online media needs to expand measurement in real time through data on keystrokes, mouse movements, scrolling, navigation, video data and smart phone browsing.

The outcome could reverse the brand managed publishing trend and let quality content dictate advertising spend. The transformation would be a win-win for advertisers, publishers and their readers.

Content marketing 2014, Debbie Meltzer, Canimpact

Content marketing 2014 guidelines

It baffles me… B2B businesses spend on average 30% of the marketing budget on content marketing. A flood of  statistics show that 58% of marketers will increase their budget in 2014, even though only 42% find their efforts successful.

 So, where are we getting it wrong?

What can be done in 2014 to prevent the run-of-the-mill content factories from churning out digital debris?
Probably the hardest step is the first one.  As a marketer I have fallen into the trap of creating customer personas, developing a strategic plan, assessing marketing automation tools and neatly executing task driven excel sheets. If you’re about to fall down that rabbit hole, hit the pause button now!

Stretch beyond the cubicle. Scan the digital sphere like a giraffe from the tree tops.
Why bother? Well, another blog post, e-newsletter or video may meet your manager’s checklist, but sometime in 2014 management will lose patience, especially after tracking  conversion rates.

 

Follow the money trail, especially the one from Mountain View
You might want to ask; who is responsible for the digital content transformation, and why? How come most SEO strategies are not working as well as they used to? And why most social media posts, even videos, reach mediocre results?

New Google ranking tactics are partly to blame.

Digital nectar for the elusive hummingbird
Each month, on average, 8.5 of the top 10 will change their Google ranking.  Why? Because Google wants to link searchers’ intent with what they’re actually looking for. They want to connect millions of search requests seeking quality content, that lack keywords. So the mountain people figured; if they could build an infrastructure round these search streams, they could help searchers find what they want; help their customers reach better advertising results and help themselves to more revenue. Incidentally, Google’s new platform is appropriately called Hummingbird.

In 2014 thou shalt stop ignoring Google+
Google+, Shmoogle+… Why bother, when the world of Social Media gravitated round Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn? Well, no more… A new Google+ toolset will help to boost brand positioning by exploiting Serp  real estate opportunities.

Premium content in the right place at the right time will rake rewards
Strong keyword signals simply won’t work anymore; neither will Social Media spins that churn out shallow posts padded with key phrases.  Premium content written or designed in the right context that adheres to Google’s new guidelines will realize rankings and better CTR (Click Through Rates).  Content optimization solutions such as Sitecore, Optimove and Outbrain are digital candy for big brand and e-commerce sites seeking better, more measurable results.

Thinking like a brand again
2014 signals the growth of internal branding. The era of hiring inexperienced social media and SEO novices is over. Organizations will need to strengthen their own team’s skills and if needed, outsource for high quality content.  Brands that can afford it, will invest in multi-content platforms that integrate owned, earned and paid media to grow more targeted distribution. Native advertising and mobile advertising will continue to surge.  Ads designed smartly for mobile could generate interesting metrics, despite size and functionality limitations.

 Companies investing in brand journalism will need to build better content factories.
Innovative brands have been ditching the news makers to become the news makers. Already big brands such as Southwest airlines, American Express, and TopShop have been establishing their own editorial channels. The flip side is that some brand content is not only competing against other companies, but the brand’s own eco-sphere, even their own customers. To avoid digital debacles, branded content will need to be more personalized and measurable.

Content will need to be more visual and more useful.
People are visual. Visual stands out. It resonates in ways that words cannot. Effective how-to-videos, eye-catching Slideshares and Snapchats are some examples of attention grabbing visual content formats that will trump in 2014, as long as they have SEO link-backs. Short form video will continue to rise. Short form video is easy to consume and can even be shared on Pinterest. The concept of video blogging or “vlogging” continues to grow as an industry.
Now the only real enemy is time.

Part 1
Honestly, when I started producing webinars, I was not a great fan. Webinars at first seemed like a highly time consuming marketing activity with little results. Well, I was wrong.

Nail a winning webinar, Debbie Meltzer, canimpact

How to nail a winning webinar

I witnessed how high quality customers were more easily converted after attending webinars. Over time I also realized that webinars were a magnet for prospects ripe to become quality customers.

Eventually I switched from auto-piloting through a webinar to seizing this broadcasting moment and turning it into a successful lead mining experience. I began to think of webinars as a mini-theatrical event, or  a live radio show with images.

But before chirping giddily about the value of webinars, a little pre-warning; webinars can be time-consuming. It takes time to prepare the material, organize it into a deck and rehearse for impact and timing. Fortunately, there are simple, practical solutions to becoming more agile. I’ll discuss them in one of the next posts in my webinar series.

So where do we begin?

1. Pick a topic with heightened search potential

Say you are doing a webinar on content tools for search. Instead of creating a title; “Content tools to help improve your search performance,” how about; “7 top content tools to rock your search performance.” The second one is attention grabbing, and is more likely to lead to a call-to-action

2. Consider inviting a co-speaker

If you have a customer that is willing to give up an hour of their time , you’ve hit gold. Anything they say during the webinar can be re-purposed (with their permission). But don’t despair if you can’t convince them; partners, and even budding industry gurus may want to nab an opportunity for personal branding.

3. Ensure your co-speaker is a compelling presenter

So you’re thrilled you’ve persuaded a customer to come and talk. But what if your guest is microphone shy, or worse, rattles on forever with no pregnant pause. If you haven’t heard them before and you’re feeling uneasy, conduct a rehearsal. Prepare a simple but very structured deck, so they can’t run astray.

4. Prepare a promotional blurb

Whether you are hosting the webinar on your site, or through a media partner, you’ll need a sensational promotional blurb to bait your audience in the first place. You can re-purpose the content to press releases, social releases, newsletters and website announcements.

5. Set up the webinar with a platform provider

Some vendors worth considering include BrightTALK, GoToWebinar and WebEx. You’ll need to copy the registration link for the registrant’s e-mailer. If you plan on switching to a live demo, just make sure with your webinar providers they can facilitate it.

6. Create a landing page

You might want to consider Hubspot or FormStack, as opposed to landing pages in Marketo. Unless you have access to on-demand coders, best to choose an app without coding prerequisites.

7. Traffic analysis setup

You may want to create a different link for each of the tactics with the help of Google URL Builder. When you open the tab, it’ll list the visitors per tactic and help you understand which tactics work best.

8. Spread the word

One month before the webinar, distribute a news release and post it on your website. You probably want to aim for up to 4 lead-up e-mailers with the first a month before, next three weeks before, then a week before, and finally one day before. Most people get the information and then register the day before the event.

9. Blitz your social media

A week before the webinar, you want to think about social media and a blog post . If you have a guest speaker, ask them to share it. If you have a LinkedIn company page, post it there. Tell them how they will benefit from the webinars takeaways.

10. Consider streaming live concurrently on your YouTube channel

Instead of just sharing the PowerPoint use a live camera so the presenter can talk directly to the audience as well as show slides. Google+ is great for live streaming. The biggest benefit of this service – it’s FREE.

Next in our webinar series: A sure fire way to a killer webinar presentation deck. Stay tuned!

marketing writing israel

Stanford, Duke & Wharton free online marketing & management courses

Over 70,000 students a week enroll  into Coursera’s free online education courses in subjects ranging from management, marketing and programming. So,not surprisingly, the ticker is moving up every few seconds.

Courses such as “An introduction to marketing”, “Understanding media through Google” and “Design thinking” are just some of the programs that are providing access for millions to higher education for free.

Many of Coursera’s 400 courses are offered by some of the most prestigious universities such as; Columbia, Princeton, Harvard and even the Technion.

Just last month Coursera nabbed another stamp of approval with the closure of a $43 million investment round from the World Bank. Piling on the prestige, the American Council on Education (ACE) approved a handful of courses for credit, affording Coursera a boost ahead of Udacity and EdX.

So, just how did Coursera take the online university scene by storm? How come it has the blessing of the top universities and councils around the world? And how can you and I make the most of Coursera?

Coursera is a MOOC (Massive Open Online Courses) that is disrupting academia and heralding a transformation in higher education. I have to admit, MOOC at first sounded to me like street gang code, but the real meaning couldn’t be further from a back alley.

MOOCs are gaining momentum, just when students are facing dwindling options. They are forcing top ranking universities to sit up, shake the dust and budget for free online courses, even though they haven’t worked out a way to monetize them.

Eventually Coursera hopes to make a profit from offering verified certificates. But one of its biggest challenges is the huge drop-out rate of enrollers.

Today there is already a new breed of Coursera junkies who cannot collect certificates but find some courses a great way to step up their training and job seeking opportunities.

Here are some of the tips they offer to make the most out of the courses:

1. The introductory videos don’t necessarily lead on to the course content, best to give it a try before making conclusions

2. Although most courses don’t offer accreditation, to some employees they demonstrate a personal commitment to learning, so it’s important to emphasize the merit

3. Try taking a course with a friend, or even a study group, to get each other motivated

4. If you have a project requiring you to learn a particular topic, you’re going to be able to take better advantage of Coursera and other MOOCs

5. Don’t assume there is consistency between classes; some courses won’t require you to submit anything till the end while others will not pass you if you miss 30% of one week

6. Coursera can provide a structure for producing portfolio items; let’s say you want a job in advertising. It’s hard to just come up with a fake campaign without somebody giving you some constraints and strategy.

7. Learn your limits, don’t enroll in more than one time-demanding course at once, try out the first week and quit if it doesn’t appeal to you

8. One of the most recommended courses is Wharton’s marketing course, which is a part of their MBA program. It focuses on branding strategies, customer centricity and new market entry.

For more, follow the twitter account; @MOOCNewsReviews, and the following Linkedin discussion thread; http://www.linkedin.com/groups/How-many-Coursera-certificates-you-4613607.S.232817708

Check out more marketing and business courses at: www.coursera.org

Debbie Meltzer

Future marketing skills, marketing technology

Thriving with future marketing technology & marketing skills

Let’s say you’ve been time shuttled to 2020, no, let’s bring it even closer – 2015… You’re scanning for inspiring marketing jobs. To your dismay, your social media, strategy and content marketing skills are outdated.  New kids on the block with mobile analytics skills, predictive modeling and crowdsourcing specialties raid the job space, leaving you with one of those; “now wait a minute” moments.

So…what happened? Is marketing dead, as Saatchi & Saatchi Worldwide CEO Kevin Roberts recently declared? (http://www.thedrum.co.uk/news/2012/04/25/marketing-dead-says-saatchi-saatchi-ceo)

Maybe, Mr. Roberts, mass media is dying, maybe social media is erratic, maybe mobile marketing is still in its first-frontier stage, but marketing, if anything, is capturing a bigger role.

Nonetheless, the fusion of marketing and technology, the rise of real time marketing, mobile marketing and analytics are changing the rules.   As a result crowdsourcing specialists, marketing integrators and market data analysts could be incorporated into future job titles.

Still, the fundamental core of marketing has not changed. Value is and will always be about what the buyer is willing to give up in return for something.

Traditionally marketers rolled out the old prediction and analysis planning models and go-to-market execution items to capitalize on value. But in times of volatility, where change is the biggest certainty, these methods are running into extinction.

Today online analytics, content marketing and crowd sourcing are supposed to capitalize on consumers who use search engines and social media in real time to solve their problems and to find desired products and services on their terms.

Mobile marketing techniques such as mobile apps and real time hyper-location are trying to encourage deeper consumer engagement with brands to increase lead generation and conversion.

But here lies the biggest paradox; in an age of ongoing transformation, how can we manage what the customer wants instantly, and simultaneously act wisely in real time? What happens when you only have split seconds to make decisions? Is it really all up to engagement, crowd sourcing and a good set of analytics tools alone?

After all, the sum total of all wisdom and surefire success is not necessarily found in the first three responses in google… and trends analysis is not only about gleaning data from tweet decks.

So, what can help us make better decisions on the spot when push comes to shove. What will help us ride through the storms?

Enter the futurist marketing tool box….

During recent workshops I recently found a warming response in particular to marketing scenario planning and back casting techniques. It seems these futurist tools  (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Futures_techniques) are becoming increasingly relevant today in corporate IT organizations.

Scenario planning is a way of understanding change agents, such as technological developments and buyer behavior patterns, and their impact on an organization’s future.

The Royal Dutch Shell was a corporate pioneer of this approach during the oil crisis. Shell created one simple scenario: What if oil prices dropped dramatically? Shell thought the unthinkable. Then in 1986 when oil prices were cut in half, the company prospered while other companies were struggling.

But marketing scenario planning alone has its limitations – mostly because of the fear of the unthinkable.  Back casting can be an innovative navigation tool for forming successful marketing strategies, fine tuning the user experience and predicting buying patterns and then outlining the actions needed to achieve them.

But like many tools such as; environmental scanning, the Delphi method, scenario planning, back casting and more… they are only as good as the person using it. Poor results are not necessarily the fault of the tool but more the user of the tool.

Still, in future, the more technology shapes marketing and the more volatile the markets, the demand for real time reactions will grow. It’s time to invest in a futurist skills set to plan better in times of growing uncertainty and to engage more intelligently in real time.

2013 predictions, marketing predictions, future mega trends 2013

future marketing 2013

I went to a marketing conference last week. The entrance, enrollment and aura were ‘uber’ chic. The miniature pastries were impressive and the panoramic views of rolling meadows injected mini-shots of euphoria.

Throughout the presentations something strange happened. Everyone seemed to recall the real role of marketing. Never mind future megatrends, it was all about lead generation. Gee whiz we forgot our roots… Amidst all these conversations, engagements and connectivity, we collectively got sidetracked, meandered aimlessly down pixelated paths – only to discover they were split ends or dead ends.

We think we have it figured out…

At last we can make sense of the waterfalls of social media streams, SEO metrics and the big fat data. 2012 is supposed to be the year we harness social media to get results – the year we build real online communities and translate it into revenue. No more spaghetti throwing on the wall to see what sticks.  Finally we can make smarter decisions.

Hang on… Can we be so sure we got it this time round? What if we have lost the ability to know how we know?

Digital philosopher David Weinberger, in his book “Too big to know” flips the concept of knowledge around its very axel. Until not that long ago, knowledge in the form of science, marketing, education… was sourced from books and experts. Today knowledge is in the networks. Myriads of streams of data coil their way through connections and communities.

Supposedly, our friends, family, even you and I are churning out valuable information nodes. Believe it or not someone is actually tracking some of this information some of the time and measuring it in real time.

But who is to say these digital dust storms generate value? Since when did everything become so manageable? And who is to say that what we consider facts really are the facts?

Somewhere along the way, the line between – writers, bloggers, post creators, spectators and spotters, got blurred. Suddenly everyone is an expert.

So… how do you weigh the expertise of this crowd?

As a marketing consultant, not that long ago, I spent a large amount of my time researching  material and presenting it in polished power point presentations. Today I am also sourcing some information from “network experts.” Like many of my colleagues, I am experimenting with meta data gleaned from social media monitoring tools.

The question is – does it provide enough insight? We are trying so hard to hear the voice of the customer, we are hoping to analyze it, but there is so much noise out there. No matter how well we try to capture and present engagement, can we really create marketing intelligence out of it?

Too often there is a disparity in the demographics between those who, let’s say, tweeted about a product, and those who bought the product, and the disparity is large enough to overturn any predicted result.

The US Republican race between Romney and Santorum is a great example of how often one candidate is overrated based on network noise that was analyzed with the coolest tools to date (and you can bet on it that millions will continue to be spent on extracting that information and presenting it in glossy reports).

Towards 2013, what can we do to avoid marketing traps, digital delusions and data debris?

Social media data mining is growing but it is firstly and fore mostly a guide rather than the ultimate answer. We can’t just neatly enter all the parameters into an app, click go and hope that it spits out the answer in real time.

Sure there is a place for big data and its new cousin – affinity data (valuable relationships between consumer behavior, products and content used to create more targeted marketing), but social network platforms are mercurial. Just look how sites like Digg, Foursquare and Gowalla are declining and Pinterest is rising.

Sure we need to take advantage of the expertise shared around the networks. After all, collaborative sharing is spreading valuable information and network knowledge. But there are also endless echo chambers spreading masses of unedited mush.

In the end we still need to combine tools with experience, instinct and an ability to think.

Perhaps our greatest task is balance – A balance between data mining –with more direct information eco-systems.

Perhaps towards 2013 we need to focus more on lead generation by talking, yes physically talking  more directly, and more often to the market. We need to build smaller, more focused network communities, and never lose sight of why the hell should they listen to us in the first place.

Debbie Meltzer Canimpact

Future mobile 2012

Already last year it was painfully clear:  If you’re an independent app developer – your chances of competing in the app market have been sapped.  Apple’s App Store, once a dynamic mobile mall, has mushroomed into a 500,000 index.  App distribution through Amazon, the App store and other avenues got too pricy. App reviewer’s tactics, like luring developers into expensive exposure deals are proving to be vulture-like.

The app gold rush is over.

Paradoxically our appetite for mobile data is growing.  Smartphone usage is set to rocket to 1.7 billion by 2013 and mobile Internet access is projected to surpass PC access by 2014. Big mobile appetites for smart phones and tablets are also driven by demographic growth, particularly in Asia where over 2 billion mobile phone lines will be registered in 2012 alone.

Caught in a quagmire, mobile players are justifiably disillusioned…
yet there are rays of hope.

The market is strongly indicating consumers want a fast, streamlined mobile web experience. What’s more, the dilemma, whether to develop a native app or web app is fading and the case for creating mobile websites is firming. That’s good news for mobile. But does it go far enough? Should future mobile players place their bets on super-sizing their offerings for smart phones and tablets alone?

Truth is, no matter how fast we’d like to ride the mobile highway, no matter how much mobile bling catches our eye, the power is and remains in the network.

Mega tech giants like Intel get it, so much so they are embracing a new network design called Cloud-RAN. Intel wants Cloud-RAN to replace the big-iron wireless networks of today with server farms that can be built and deployed at a fraction of the cost. Other Titans like Texas Instruments and Freescale have rebuked their visions as “wishful thinking”. Sneer they may, but Intel and other visionaries are not just embracing a next level technology.Their leaders are adjusting to the future impact of the current socio-economic transformation and the drive for new sources of energy – from networks to road ways

The outcome, in the next few years, could mark the next big thing after the Internet.

If only we could just rise above the mobile, social media and location smog, and project beyond this era of uncertainty. If we did, we’d see the emergence of an Energy Revolution.

My colleagues and I are so caught up in social media mind shafts, Windows Mobile, Android apps, hyper location, e-Wallet, and other 2011-12 buzz words, we are distancing ourselves from a budding power play. We need to start looking at different ways of harnessing energy and focus marketing efforts on driving its agenda.

Futurist and trendologist Gerald Celente: “We’re going to see … an energy revolution. Breakthroughs in new energy could shift the whole game. “We need a productive capacity and the best way that we see it is with alternative energy — not wind, solar, geothermal, bio-fuel, but something much bigger.” he added

I tend to agree with Celente – Going back to 1990. What got us out of the recession? A productive capacity – the Internet Revolution. Products were invented, designed, manufactured and serviced. Back casting from 2015, what got us out of the double-dip 2008 – 2014 recession?

The energy revolution.

In the next posts I’ll outline what will it take to create an energy revolution and how smartphone technology, social media, crowdsourcing and politics can help to advocate the transition.

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