Media experiment tracking #4

I’ve now finished the one month experiment I ran where I tracked how many clicks I was sending from MMM and CT.WP to mainstream news organizations. Just to restate how I did this, I used tracking links to see how often people clicked through to the websites of newspapers or magazines, not other blogs. That’s because it’s not blogs that are complaining about how other blogs are stealing their traffic or ad revenue and it’s not blogs that are considering erecting paywalls for their content. So this was meant to see how much money I was helping those news organizations earn by linking to them, something that’s only possible (for me at least) if they continue to be free.

  • Links Shareed: 82
  • Clicks: 983
  • Ad revenue at $25 CPM: $24.57

The most highly-clicked link I included was the one to the Los Angeles Times story I was quoted in. Personally I look at that and feel that it’s not just in newspapers’ best interest to continue allowing plentiful opportunities for links but engage in more outreach to blog writers for stories about the niche topics those writers cover since such outreach is likely – almost guaranteed – to result in a recommendation by the writer to go over and read that story.

I know there are some flaws in my “experiment’s” methodology. It’s not perfect by any means. But I do think the results support the broad idea that not only can blog writers help newspapers and magazines survive but that there are more opportunities for each party to help each other and build a mutually advantageous relationship. There are always going to be bad actors out there – there are as many sites that rip off the content of a highly-trafficked blog as there are ones that rip off a newspaper’s content – but for the most part we’re all in the same boat. I love to write but I’m dependent to a large extent on newspapers and their reporting resources. Newspaper writers love (I hope) to write but they can get more traffic for their stories by doing outreach to blog writers also covering that topic area.


Here’s a thought: If you could have your television remote control or DVR box share your activity with your friends via something like Facebook Connect would you enable that functionality? We seem to have no problem sharing what we’re doing online, with some offline activity bleeding into that as well as we publish online what we’re doing in the real world. But there it’s mostly selective sharing – I’m not going to tell everyone that I just spent 10 minutes petting the cat because, well, I don’t choose to. So would people make different choices on what to watch if they knew that if they stayed on a channel for more than 5 minutes the fact they were watching that program would be broadcast everywhere? Just something that has me thinking today.

Mulling on lifestreams

I keep playing around with the idea of “life-streaming” but have never quite embraced it the way some people, especially Steve Rubel, have. The closest I come is my FriendFeed profile, which aggregates MMM, CT.WP, Twitter, Delicious, Google Reader and a bunch of my other profiles and accounts, some of which I don’t use all that regularly. That, to my mind, is what a lifestream should be – a single touch-point for all those disparate profiles and outlets where people can go to find everything I do online.

But Steve’s now thinking differently, with a post about how his lifestream is turning more from that model to one that has him posting in one place, with that then being distributed to all those outlets.

Looking at the graphic he uses, the Posterous model increasingly looks backwards to me. Yeah, that’s exactly what Posterous does – easy posting to its platform with it then auto-posting to those other profiles. This isn’t a lifestream, it’s more like lifedistribution. As an example: All of Steve’s Posterous posts are pushed to Twitter, but not all of his Twitter updates are shared on Posterous. Lifestreaming, I think, should aggregate and not distribute since a distribution model means I still have to connect with you on multiple platforms whereas an aggregation model means I get a one-stop-shop.

I get what he’s saying about signal-to-noise ratios, but there are ways to manage that. Cut your RSS feeds, create a “Priorities” column in Tweetdeck, come to the conclusion (as I have) that hanging out on Facebook all day adds nothing of value. The only reason that ratio is lower for him right now is that Posterous has yet to truly explode into the mainstream, despite a number of high-profile people who have adopted it quite fully. Give it a couple of Newsweek stories and that will change.

I’m not ragging on Steve – it’s working for him and that’s great, even if I see some problems with it. We all do what works for us and what makes sense in our own minds, just like we all like music that makes sense to and speaks to us. I just don’t quite agree with him on what the real promise of it is or on what the real value of Posterous really is.


Mack Collier writes thusly in his post about finding the return on investment with corporate social media efforts:

Some people will argue that if you mention the ROI of social media, that you have to speak in terms of dollars in, and dollars out. I’m not going to argue that point, but based on what I’m hearing from BIG companies that are having success with social media, they are getting C-suite buy-in and continued support from their efforts because they are creating something that the c-suite sees the value of for their companies.

That’s a great shift that we’re seeing, especially in the PR field, where ROI is often something that’s difficult to grasp since, as I stated yesterday, the metrics used in PR aren’t always as cut-and-dried and easy to understand as those used in advertising, which PR people are always in conflict with in terms of getting budget and approval.

But as others Mack has interviewed state, not needing to see a direct ROI in sales and such doesn’t mean there aren’t metrics to use to determine success. Buy-in is much easier to get when you can say to C-level execs “Here’s where we are and here’s where we hope to be with the help of this program.” At the end of the day a needle – whatever it is – needs to be moved. What that needle is, though, is something that needs to be agreed upon by all stakeholders in the planning phases, which is where the “value” you’re hoping those C-level folks will see is decided upon so that all involved know where the goal line is and how it’s going to be reached.

Measuring online media coverage

RulerI can’t believe I’m going to say this out-loud. Let me be clear I’m not completely convinced of this idea but it hasn’t stopped circulating around my head since it first occurred to me so I thought I’d throw it out there.

Is there a case to be made for measuring the ad equivalency of online media coverage?

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the term, ad equivalency is a public relations industry metric that looks at the size (column inches or running time depending on the media) of a mention in the press and calculates what the company being mentioned would have had to pay for advertising of that size in that outlet. So if a company gets a two column inch mention in The New York Times it’s supposed to be worth $X since that’s what an ad of that size in the NYT would have cost. It’s not a perfect metric but it’s common one that PR professionals have used for a long time because, unlike advertising, there’s little in the way of direct monetary ROI they can point to. So it’s basically a way of saying “I’m justifying my salary here because this story I got placed would have cost you $15,000 if you had bought that much space as an ad.”

I started thinking along these lines after reading all the coverage, like this Variety story, about the push for three-screen measurement of who’s watching movies, TV shows and other content across TV, mobile and online platforms.

As an example of what I’m thinking about, look at Jenni Miller’s post on Cinematical about watching Twilight twice and liking it. It’s an eight paragraph story that, if I’m running Summit’s publicity efforts, I’m loving right now. If that publicist wanted to he or she could look at the ad rates for Cinematical and figure out how much a similar ad buy would be on the site, using that number to figure out how much the story is “worth” to Summit.

As I said, ad equivalency is not a perfect metric and you’ll find as many people who want to kill it as you will people to defend it. And there might already be a system in place to do just that, but if there is I haven’t heard about it. But as online media matures and advertising pervades most all the large-scale sites on which publicists are trying to score coverage it’s one that I can see being used by those making the case for reaching out to online media outlets.

I’m going to go swallow my own tongue now.

Marketers driving the development of iPhone apps

iPhone 3GsThat headline might not sound all that revolutionary, but let me explain. This AdAge story confirms a notion I’ve held for a while, which is that a disproportionate number of iPhone apps are being developed simply because marketers themselves – and the people they hang out with – are iPhone users and therefore that’s what they’re thinking about.

Executives at ad agencies said they see the iPhone user base expanding at their brand clients, but it’s by no means the mobile standard. Agencies themselves tend to have disproportionately higher iPhone penetrations than the average business, but some are wary of iPhone myopia.

Beyond an audience of themselves, iPhone apps are, I think, largely developed to reach those who are seen as early adopters and therefore influencers among their peers. There’s no way you’re getting the consumer scale you need right now since iPhones account for only three percent of the smartphone market. But that’s an influential three percent who, most importantly, are always talking about their iPhone and how cool the latest app they downloaded is. So there’s tremendous WOM value in such a tactic.

Streaming hold-outs

Movie Icon: RSSIt shouldn’t surprise anyone who’s been paying attention to the content-delivery industry that a recent report by Retailer Daily shows the biggest threat to physical media sales is the promise of TVs eventually having direct internet connections that can be used to either stream or download media.

We’re already seeing this in the gaming industry, where online-enabled consoles are leading to the eventual death of discs, which right now are increasingly just the key that’s used to unlock the online multi-player experience.

The report speculates that slow consumer adoption of Blu-ray means people are holding out to see what happens with net-connected screens and are unwilling to invest in a still expensive technology that may be out-dated in less than five years. More and more TV manufacturers have announced devices that have baked-in streaming functionality. Right now many of those are in the form of exclusive partnerships with Blockbuster, Netflix or other retailers but eventually there’s going to be a shift to a more generic online functionality that will give viewers the option of paid services like those or free streaming via Hulu or television network sites.

Put that together with research from the Pew Internet & American Life Project that shows the percentage of internet users watching online video is way up over the last couple of years and you’ve got the signs of a major shift that’s occurring.

Specifically that percentage has risen from around 32 percent at the end of 2006 to over 60 percent in April 2009. Looking at younger folks more narrowly, 89 percent of those 18-29 watch online video on a daily basis.

That sort of trend story makes the just-announced deal between a handful of movie studios and the site FilmFresh to offer movies that can be downloaded and burned to a DVD that’s playable just about anywhere kind of…funny. This is the functionality that people were asking for five years ago but which has always been elusive because of studio concerns about piracy and such. I’m not saying this is a bad thing – just that we’re way beyond this being some sort of major coup, I think. Burning to a disc is an extra step that consumers, I believe, no longer see as necessary. The preference now would be to download it once and be able to watch it on their computers and then have that device tie right into their TV. Or, as the Retailer Daily story suggests, even skip the need for a computer-to-TV connection altogether.

[Graphic via Nielsen Wire]

How much does movie-watching cost

Anne Thompson shares a chart created by online money management site on how much, on average is spent per purchase across a number of movie-watching options, from big theater chains to Redbox.


This chart really shows why studios are so afraid of Redbox: The numbers there are growing from 2008 to 2009 while the numbers at theaters and Blockbuster Video and other rental outlets are shrinking. The the dollars spent per purchase at Redbox aren’t nearly what they are elsewhere and so represent a clear and present danger to studio revenue.

(Anne also has a guest post from Diane Garrett that goes into the studio’s oppostion

I get why studios have been so aggressive against Redbox. I do. It makes sense to me. I’m not saying I agree with them, but I get it and this chart makes it very clear what has them spooked. But the reality is that distribution is changing and the market is defined by what the consumer perceives the product to be worth and not only by what the producer wants it to be worth. Long before Redbox or Netflix there were “dollar theaters” – second run houses where films would go after their initial theatrical run where they’d play for a few more weeks at a cheaper ticket price – and people would make the decision whether a movie was worth paying $5 for at the first run theater or $1 for a couple months later. So it’s not a new mindset we’re dealing with. Just different distribution.

That point – about consumer perception of a movie’s “worth” is picked out by Chris Albrecht at NewTeeVee in a post pointing to a Video Business article about the aggressive pricing for online distribution adopted by iTunes and Amazon. The first factor in that is likely those two outlets using their powerful status to make a play for market share. But there’s also the idea, he says, among consumers that online movies *should* cost less. That’s true both in theory and reality. Digital distribution comes without the production of physical media and the packaging it needs and the lack of those expenses should absolutely be reflected in the price, regardless of what Walmart might want.

Product is worth what the market will bear. The problem with disruptive models like those Redbox adopted is that it not only threatens the establishment but also drastically changes the thinking of the consumer-focused public in a way that can’t be done. Lawsuits will fly and settlements reached, but the reality is that people are now used to the “free” rentals they get from Netflix (a monthly charge, but no direct cost per movie so it’s seen to some extent as “free”) and the $1 idea introduced by Redbox. Eventually there will need to be thinking devoted to how to adapt to these models and stop railing against them.

Restrictions on social publishing

Wait, you mean the social media publishing restrictions imposed by the NCAA’s Southern Conference weren’t as restrictive as some people thought they were?

Conference officials said they were not trying to prevent fans from sending personal messages or brief descriptions of games to their Facebook pages or on Twitter, as some fans fear. Enforcing such a policy would be impractical and counterproductive because social media platforms help promote the conference’s teams, said Charles Bloom, a spokesman for the SEC. Last August, the conference signed 15-year television contracts with ESPN and CBS.

But “the line is drawn at game footage video,” Mr. Bloom said. “We want to protect our rights to have video between the conference and its members, and ban the commercial sale of photo images. Fans can post photos on their site or Facebook page, but they can’t be for sale.”

Much of the criticism from social media types last week was based on the assumption/belief/misinterpretation that the rules were meant to specifically restrict Twittering, posting photos to Flickr and other such activity. But no, not so much, at least not based on this story.

Almost posted this to Twitter


Thank goodness I showed some self-restraint. Oh…wait…