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  • feedwordpress 04:39:26 on 2016/09/22 Permalink
    Tags: , open web, publishing, ,   

    I feel terrible about this site. 

    The post I feel terrible about this site. appeared first on John Battelle's Search Blog.

    I don’t write here anymore. I write almost entirely on Medium now. It’s not a choice I made to NOT write here, it’s a choice I made to edit NewCo Shift, our new publication. It lives on Medium, but if it were a WordPress site, well, my writing would all be on that site. It’s less about the medium (so to speak) and more about the publication.

    As the days go by, and this site gets longer in the tooth, the challenge of updating it and making it current gets bigger and bigger. It eats at me. And I miss the engagement that this place used to have. I know it’s all my fault, and I’m sorry. I don’t have a plan to return to this place, because as much as I love the kind of writing I do here, I simply don’t have the time to do it. And I don’t see that changing anytime soon.

    So, if you followed me here, and have wondering WTF I’m up to, well, follow me on Medium. And maybe subscribe to my newsletter there. Here are a few stories I’ve written (I do at least one or two a week):

    Comb the Hairball: Why Healthcare Is Broken and Sugar Dominates Our Diet

    What Everyone Missed in the Unilever/Seventh Generation Deal

    100 Million Strangers Sleeping In Other People’s Homes

    Understanding Medium: Evan Williams On His Past, Future, and Current Obsessions

    To Fix Government Tech, Take Off the Headphones and Listen

    I love Searchblog. I am sure I’ll return to it at some point. For now, however, my dance partner is NewCo Shift.

    The post I feel terrible about this site. appeared first on John Battelle's Search Blog.

     
  • feedwordpress 00:57:48 on 2015/09/28 Permalink
    Tags: ad blocking, ad fraud, , , , publishing, salon topic   

    It’s Time to Flip the Bit on Publishing and Data 

    The post It’s Time to Flip the Bit on Publishing and Data appeared first on John Battelle's Search Blog.

    adblock-plus(image BI)

    My god, do we like to talk about ourselves.

    That’s my takeaway from the recent algae-bloom of writing around ad blocking and fraud lately – most of it tinged with apocalyptic implications for the future of independent publishing. I’ve hung back from writing because I’ve been so busy *reading* everything – like this piece by Anil. Or this “expose” by Bloomberg (honestly, this is not a new story!). Or this one by Jason, this by Frederic, this by Doc, or this by Cory.

    Cory calls for a new model, and I think he’s right. I’ve been thinking and talking and writing about new models in publishing and media for a good long time. Perhaps now is the time to revive an idea I’ve been on about for years.

    Because as Tim points out, quoting Schrage, great new companies aren’t created by assuming that we keep doing things the way they’ve always been done. They instead demand that we alter our behavior entirely, because the benefit is so great. As Ben put it, publishers need to rethink their business models. In a private post on his daily (subscription-based) newsletter, Ben further points out that the iPhone didn’t succeed because it followed the generally acceptable rules of Clayton Christensen’s famous disruption thesis, it worked precisely because it didn’t. It created so much value that people were willing to change their behavior, from using a phone to call and text people, to using it to connect them to the Internet and its extraordinarily broad set of services. Same goes for Facebook, Uber, and many other “unicorns” that have forced new behaviors (sharing all our data into a central platform, shifting from flagging a cab to pushing a button, etc.).

    So this begs the question: What is the new set of behaviors consumers might adopt with regard to publishing? And what might be the 10x shift in value creation that augurs such a shift? Might there be an antlered pony buried within all this fraud and ad-blocking horseshit?

    First the (somewhat easier) bit – the new set of behaviors. To me this has to do with the relationship of publisher and reader/audience member. The rise of free content on the Web has broken what was previously a clear one-to-one relationship: reader subscribed to a periodical, delivering demographic and geographic data in the process. Now, that relationship has been re-aggregated through a crazy quilt of advertising technologies seeking to identify who you are and what you might want. This “advertising industrial complex” has led to the conditions we all now lament – hundreds of data-sucking ad trackers on most web pages, slow load times, crappy ads, and massive fraud which takes advantage of a disjointed and leaky ecosystem.

    But what if user behavior actually reverted to a direct, one to one relationship between publisher and reader? What if that data that advertisers so openly covet – your name, age, zip code, interests, etc. – was held by the *reader*, instead of the publisher or the adtech industry? And what if, upon coming to a new site for the first time, that site simply asked “will you please share your data with us, so we may serve you the best and most appropriate ads?” If you say no, perhaps the content doesn’t load. But why say no – if you’re in control and the data will only make your life better?

    I’ve argued for just such a model in We Have Yet to Clothe Ourselves In Data. We Will. The bit that has to flip is summarized in this quote:

    We lack an ecosystem that encourages innovation in data use, because the major platforms hoard our data. This is retarded, in the nominal/verb sense of the word. Facebook’s picture of me is quite different from Google’s, Twitter’s, Apple’s, or Acxiom’s*. Imagine what might happen if I, as the co-creator of all that data, could share it all with various third parties that I trusted? Imagine further if I could mash it up with other data entities – be they friends of mine, bands I like, or even brands?

    It’s insane that as consumers we outsource our data wardrobe to Facebook, Apple, Google, and the hot mess that is the adtech industry. The consumer behavior I believe will change our world, and by extension the economics of publishing and advertising, is a shift in control of our own data from third party platforms to ourselves as the platform. Put in Internet terms, from the server to the node (we’re the nodes). If this happens, all manner of innovation and efficiency will erupt.

    But the rub lies in the second part of this innovation equation: What will be the astonishing, disruptive force that drives such a shift? What is the Uber or Facebook or iPhone that will drive this shift in data use behavior?

    God, if I knew that…I’d start that company. But I sense when it does break out (and I am certain it will), it will seem hugely obvious. How frustrating to not know what it is. Like a vivid dream lost seconds after waking, it haunts me every day. Any ideas?!

    The post It’s Time to Flip the Bit on Publishing and Data appeared first on John Battelle's Search Blog.

     
  • feedwordpress 04:57:28 on 2015/03/24 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , , publishing   

    A Few Questions For Publishers Contemplating Facebook As A Platform 

    The post A Few Questions For Publishers Contemplating Facebook As A Platform appeared first on John Battelle's Search Blog.

    tree-roots

    Well, it’s happening. According to no less authoritative source than The New York Times, The New York Times is preparing to plant a taproot right inside the highly walled garden that is Facebook.

    As Times’ executives contemplate moving The Grey Lady squarely under the rather constrictive confines of Facebook’s terms of service, they may be comforting themselves with a few palliative pretty-much-truths:

    1. We may be putting our content on Facebook’s platform, but we’ll still have our presence on the open web, apps, and in print. We’re really just accessing a massive audience natively, in a way they want to consume our content. In our other products, we’ll still be in control (well, not so much with iOS but…).
    2. Really, Facebook is just another channel — like when Borders and Barnes & Noble consolidated the newsstand business. Facebook’s just a big newsstand where we have to have our product.
    3. We’re going to be among the initial few to do this, which gives us first mover’s advantage, and probably the best economics anyone will ever get given how strongly Facebook is wooing us.
    4. If it doesn’t work , we can always call it a grand experiment and move along, sort of like we did with AOL back in the day. Or Apple back when the Newsstand was a thing.

    All kinda true, and compelling enough to “test,” which is how the article carefully positions the Times’ intentions. But as testing beings, here are a few questions any publisher should ask before dipping a taproot into Facebook’s carefully cultivated soils:

    • Do you have full and unfettered access to reader data? Will Facebook have access to your customer data?

    A publisher lives and dies by its ability to maintain a strong connection to its readership. That means understanding how people use your product, so you can make it better. It means knowing who your customers are, so you can call them by name, make them offers, ask them questions, converse with them using sophisticated tools. Will Facebook offer the kind of tools the open web does?

    • Do you have full and unfettered control over your advertising relationships and data? Will Facebook have access to that data?

    If Facebook is selling your advertising, or telling you how to sell your advertising, or dictating what your advertising has to look like, or has access to data about your customer data *and* your advertising, they have your jewels in their hands. I hope those are very soft hands.

    • Do you have certainty over the levers of circulation marketing, including the price of reader acquisition and engagement? 

    Facebook’s record here ain’t exactly encouraging. Everyone knows that if you want to build audience on Facebook, you have to pay Facebook. Publishers have gotten pretty sophisticated at understanding customer acquisition costs, ROI, and the like. Will Facebook offer a consistent ecosystem here, or will the sands shift as the company ropes in your competitors, leverages “proprietary algorithms” to decide who sees what, then ultimately decides to get into your business in some way? If you want to read up on such a market, just ask Yelp how it feels about Google.

    • Do you have control over your core product, so you can craft your reader’s experience as an expression of your brand? 

    I can’t really stress this one too much. I mean, what if a year in, you want to ask some of your Facebook readers to pay you, in exchange for less advertising (or none)? Do you have to ask permission? Wait, you agreed to not do that? Well why would any reader pay you on the open web if they can get it for free on Facebook? And what if you want to do something like Snowfall? Or what if you come up with a really neat widget that pulls in processed content from, say, Twitter and SnapChat? Will Facebook let you? They kinda sorta don’t like those companies, last I checked. My guess is they won’t like others down the road too.

    • Do you have any proof that publishers using another company’s proprietary platform have ever created a lasting and sustainable business? 

    I guess I should have put this one first. There have been good exits for some publishers from platforms — a few of the MCNs on YouTube come to mind — but those were native video publishers who will all admit that they could never reach profitability on YouTube’ economics.

    I can’t really think of any publisher who thrived on someone else’s platform, for the reasons I laid out above. Sure, a lot of apps have done well, but in the main they were either hit businesses (gaming) or free services that kept their customer and revenue models well away from Apple or Google’s grasp (everybody else ever).

    Perhaps Facebook has addressed all these points with the Times and others — but the article certainly didn’t find evidence of that. And all of you other publishers should know how the playing field tilts before joining the game.

    Which brings us to BuzzFeed, which has taken a delightfully inverse approach to platform economics — that is to say, it embraces the distribution of its content independent of its home base. Of course, it can do so because its core revenue model is native advertising content, which is distributed in the same fashion as original editorial content. This model suits BuzzFeed very, very well. I’m not sure it scales for many others.

    So far, Facebook has not clipped BuzzFeed’s native advertising wings. Could it? Just ask Zynga.

    Then again, and to be fair, I’m not privy to the conversations between the Times and Facebook. Regardless, were I a publisher, I’d sure like to know the answers to those questions above. If anyone gets some, do let us know?

    (cross posted to Medium).

    The post A Few Questions For Publishers Contemplating Facebook As A Platform appeared first on John Battelle's Search Blog.

     
  • nmw 15:28:55 on 2014/12/17 Permalink
    Tags: , , brand name, brand names, , , commercial, community, core, , , generic, magazine, magazines, must read, proprietary, publication, , publishing, target audience, top level domain, top level domains, trademark, trademarks   

    Must Read Dot Com 

    To me, just one question matters when it comes to a publication and whether it has a chance of long term success: Is it a must read?

    http://battellemedia.com/archives/2014/12/media-must-succeed.php

    This relationship (the “must read” obligation) is also the way many people feel about the “Dot Com” top level domain.

    I agree that for commercial activity (i.e., for trademarks, brand names, etc.) this obligation to appear in the “dot com” registry seems reasonable.

    What John says about the core community (the core “target audience”) of any publication is also something I wrote about with respect to the new proprietary top level domains — see http://www.circleid.com/posts/20141121_experience_and_evidence_point_to_strong_renewal_rates_for_new_tlds/#10369

     
  • nmw 09:01:08 on 2014/09/08 Permalink
    Tags: , , open, profit, publish, , , publishing,   

    Apps are the opposite of open 

    John Battelle continues his series on deep linking between apps:

    http://battellemedia.com/archives/2014/09/lessons-mobile-deep-dive-quickening-is-nigh.php

    What I find odd about this line of thought is that it seems to overlook why many publishers invested so much in app development: In order to provide a path to exclusive content. If it were as easy as 1-2-3 to jump into such walled gardens, then perhaps that might nullify the opportunity for the publisher to reap a profit (because competition could enter the playing field, driving profits to zero).

    By the way: I have been musing a little myself along similar lines — check out Science vs. Relativity 😉

     
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