The mobile web: Why the future really is on the small screen

According to a report on Reuters last year, world wide mobile phone subscriptions reached 3.3-billion users or half the world’s population. Compare this to television usage (about 1,5-billion users) or desktop internet usage (about 1,1-billion users), and it is not…

'Beware the power of social media'

This popped into my inbox this afternoon. I know Jovan Regasek well and have big respect for the man, ITWeb and the other publications his company puts out. For those of you wondering, ITWeb survived full on through the dot.bomb…

The future of the newspaper

From: “European papers optimistic on future — with web’s help” (Sent to me by M&G Online editor, Riaan Wolmarans.) …but European editors interviewed by the Associated Press appear strikingly optimistic about the future. They see the online media explosion more…

Online ads: What’s working?

Online advertising as we know it is crude. But it is entering a new era of sophistication….

The internet allows us to target advertising to an unprecedented degree, so why are most banner ads still served on such a hit-and-miss basis?

Publishers slap up an insurance ad on a homepage in the hope they will get the industry average 0,3% click-through rate or more. If they achieve that click-through rate, everyone is happy. But here is the question — what happened to the other 99,7%? Surely by any standards this is a pretty inefficient ratio? It may be at first glance, but that 0,3% is still valuable enough for advertisers to achieve major return on investment by forking out big bucks to be on the major sites.

The type of client found on local online publishers give us a clue as to what is working on the web. For example, insurance and car companies have had a very successful love affair with the internet. The one thing they have in common is that a single acquisition equals very high value for them, for example someone buying a car or taking out a long-term insurance policy. It’s also why the high-worth online audience, which can afford to pay regular premiums, works for their brand… (read on)

Online media is the new black

I’ve been at Mail & Guardian for a long time now, five years and counting, flying the online flag. Am blogging from our 2007 strategy conference just outside Pretoria and the change in strategic direction and thinking is significant. It…

Decline of the homepage

Website consumption patterns are changing. Remember when the main way to surf a website was via its homepage? Well, that was the old days. The rise of super-fast, super-efficient search engines mean that users are increasingly accessing websites via deep links that bypass their homepages directly to a website’s articles. It’s essentially a backdoor into your website. Search engines aren’t the only ones to blame. Bloggers generally link directly to the articles they are writing about, ignoring homepages. RSS feeds, which allow users to subscribe directly to article feeds, are also responsible for the decline of the homepage. So what does this mean? Paradoxically it is both a problem and an opportunity for publishers.

Where are the great online magazines? Where?

Magazines have not enjoyed the same high profile, runaway success of their newspaper counterparts in the online world. Magazines aren’t big online. Websites of print magazines have had a rather low profile in more than 10 years of internet in this country. Compare this to the high-profile online news brands that rake in big numbers and you will see what I mean. It’s no secret that the news brands dominate the top half of the local online readership rankings, whereas very few magazines even make the top 50 sites….

Online ‘permanence’

Imagine a world where you could actively sell advertising on archived content. Well, it’s here. Content on a website should never die. Never, ever. To delete content on a website is a waste. Online articles and their links should be permanent. In the world of the dead tree, articles have limited lifespans. You read your paper, then it’s used to wrap fish and chips, is thrown in the rubbish bin, or lives a lonely life of obscurity in some dusty library archive….

It’s about branding, stupid

Online advertising is not only about clicks, leads and acquisitions… branding is important too. There are a number of competing online advertising models on the net. By far the most dominant one used by online publishers is the Cost-per-Thousand (CPM) model. CPM is the closest online advertising gets to advertising in traditional media. The advertiser pays in advance to place an advert that will be displayed to the website’s readership base, which should generate return on investment. Through the campaign there will be branding for the advertiser, click-throughs on the advert, leads and hopefully acquisition of the product. Everyone’s happy?

Why can’t we all just get along?

The media world is undergoing profound change. We know the great catalyst for these changes has been the onward march of the digital age and the arrival of the internet.

This changing mediascape is often incorrectly portrayed as a battlefield, with two main skirmishes on the go. In the first “battle”, the soldiers have grown weary or just rather bored. This battle involves traditional media (newspapers, radio, TV) versus online media. The second “battle” is a much more interesting to look at. This skirmish involves mainstream media (which in this instance includes online publishers as they mostly practise traditional journalism) versus citizen media, which includes bloggers, vloggers and podcasters….

Battle of the business sites

Websites that report on financial news and information were always going to crack it online. The web is the perfect medium for delivering up-to-the-minute financial news and data. Moreover, the LSM of the average business news reader matches that of the online reader: Both are high. The five biggest consumer-focused business sites, reporting on general financial news in South Africa, are engaged in a tussle to capture a bigger share of this lucrative reader and advertising market….

Mail & Guardian Online, a great 2006, even better 2007

It’s been a mad couple of years. It’s been gratifying being part of the Mail & Guardian Online success story. We have a small staff of only 10 full timers or so, but they are passionate about the brand. We have seen the site double its local readership and triple its international readership in just over a year or so to become the fourth biggest online publisher in the country (so say Nielsens)….

Sunday Times: What were they thinking?

I got a shock when I opened my favourite newspaper this Sunday. For some reason, at which I can only guess, the sport section has been reduced to tabloid format. In fact, the sport section seems to have become part…

The Google plan: sell advertising everywhere

Those clever guys at Google… they’re planning to “organise the world’s information”, but also they should add that after organising that information, they’re going to “sell advertising on all of it”. And they don’t just mean public information and your…

Of blogs & publishers

Did this interview with Colin Daniels, who is to present at the IFRA conference in Vienna later this year. He wanted to know about www.blogmark.co.za our rather basic blog-cum-forum open source system we run. • When was Blogmark started? About…

Is Google a monster?

On Poynter emedia tidbits on which I am a fellow contributor, the big question is asked of the dot.com mega success story, Google: “Can someone please step up and say we’re facing a monster?” It goes on, referring to the…

Bloggers Indaba: business & marketing panel

Now the business part of the conference, literally. I was all ears because obviously my role at Mail & Guardian Online largely involves the business side these days as opposed to editorial (a ‘reformed’ journalist??). Up were Alec Hogg from…

The people have written

Now South Africa has its own citizen journalism website in Johnnic’s commendable reporter.co.za The relentless pace of technology is turning everyone into citizen reporters. Anyone with a cellphone camera is a potential citizen photographer. Anyone with a blog is a…