This I found interesting – if only for the fact that it touched on a conversation I had with one of the good gentlemen listed to your right. Well, on the home page right. Anyway….

Time.

http://newsosaur.blogspot.com/2008/04/drive-by-surfers-peril-news-sites.html

I mentioned time at JEECamp the other month as one of those straws that I cling to; the fact that our average visit time for the month of January on www.myfootballwriter.com/norwichcity was 436 seconds. And as they, on average, visited the site three-and-a-half times that same month, by hook or by crook we managed to grab their attention for, what, 25 minutes a month.

About the same length of time as one episode of EastEnders.

Or rather Coronation Street. EastEnders doesn’t build advertising around it. 

Anyway, to quote Mr Mutter… “In the first three months of this year, the average amount of time visitors spent on newspaper sites fell by 2.9% to 44 minutes and 18 seconds per month, or less than 1½ minutes per day…

This, he contends, is a problem.

“If drive-by surfers continue to generate a growing proportion of newspaper traffic, will advertisers put a high enough value on these relatively fickle visitors to pay the premium rates necessary to continue funding these elaborate, content-rich websites?

“I wouldn’t count on it…”

Nor would I. Because over the last couple of years I’ve long since discovered that you can pull all manner of tricks when it comes to hits, page visitors, unique visitors, etc, etc…

The one where it is hard to pull the wool over any advertiser’s eyes is time. How long are the eye-balls glued to that page…

And this should, in theory, give us all hope. Because with the tables now fully turned on us, the multiplication of choice facing our one-time reader means that we have to work that much harder to command their attention…

The average ‘drive-by surfer’ recognise a re-hashed quote from 50 paces; one glance and he’s gone. ‘Nah, read it… Seen it before….’

And that’s why stuffing newspaper websites with aggregated and re-aggregated copy won’t work; the eye-balls will linger over what’s new, what’s fresh and what they haven’t see before.

And, hopefully, what’s well written.

Because what are people looking for? They’re looking for a good read, in Clay Shirky’s famous words.

What they are not looking for is a re-read, a re-hash and a re-nose. They haven’t got time for that. Give it to me fresh and first; that’s where the value is; that’s where the eye-balls will linger longest.

Give it to me fresh, first and in a form that proves a good read, time and time again, then people will return time and time again. Keep me informed; keep me entertained; keep me happy. Or else I’m outta here…

That’s the challenge that the multiplication of media presents us all with – getting them not only to drive-by, but to park up. To surf, to see and to stay.

And in the midst of that challenge, quality will count.

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I have to say one of the best newspaper adverts for some time is that Gladiator-esque ‘battle’ between the sexes that ends up with one side reading their ‘You Magazine’; the other their ‘Live’.

For while what’s left of my best liberal intentions might struggle with the general thrust of ‘The Mail On Sunday’, in our household we ‘get’ You and Live. It’s why The Daily Mail has more chance than most of us…

Anyway, the point is that I quite like all the gadgety features that ‘Live’ delivers. Not from a geeky-type, trainspotter kind of angle; rather these days for what it might do for me – or, hopefully, us – as digital journalists.

I’m not sure whether there’s a link, but P41 of this Sunday’s edition proved very much a case in point as Rob Waugh cast his eye over two little gadgets as part of his ‘Live For Tech’ section.

The first is about Intel’s new little baby, the Atom processor. I’m not going to do the numbers that come attached – just the words. The fact that it is ‘set to turn the computer in your man bag into the PC in your pocket…’  

And here’s the killer line. “The low-cost/low-power-usage Atom series is intended to see service not only in the next generation of small lap-tops, but also in an entirely new class of gadget: mobile internet devices…’

The MID.

Cue a nice glossy pic of the Lenovo IdeaPad U8.  Again, read the words. ‘The web, full-fat and fast, in your pocket…’

I’m not pretending for a moment to be any kind of marketing expert. Will the MID prove to be neither one thing nor the other; will it fall between two stools, being neither a UMPC or a PDA..?

Oh, come on… An ultra-mobile PC or a Personal Digital Assistant. Apparently. 

I’ve no idea. But someone at Lenovo – and perhaps they’ve looked at the Apple iPhone and decided that it’s web-browser capability is the stand-out feature there – has clearly decided that getting the Net into the palm of your hand is where we’re all head…

That to go back to our cheesy ad slogan… while it’s not in our kids genes with a ‘g’ to read a newspaper what will be in their jeans with a ‘j’ will be a MID…

OK, slung beneath ‘The Mighy Atom’ is a stick to beat your Wi-Fi with – in this case Vodafone’s new super-powered 3G modem.

“The HSDPA modem is a thumb-sized stick that plugs into the USB port of your laptop. If you’re in an HSPDA area (ie, a major city) is offers a 7Mb internet connection. That’s faster than many wired connections…

‘… And with a price of £39 up front plus £15 a month, I could envisage using one of these all the time…’

Here at MFW, we already do. Or rather when we’re sat in the Press box of football grounds up and down the country, we do. The chances of Loddon ever becoming in an HSDPA area are nil. But then I’m wired in at home.

Our Vodafone sticks are last year’s model; they come as part of the boys’ ‘starter packs’; I don’t think any of us run at 7Mb yet. And looking at the costings, I need to get back to Vodafone and do a deal…

Put the two together – a MID and a super-fast 3G modem that’s no more than a thumb-sized addition to your nearest laptop – and what are we seeing? That the delivery of news on a digital-only platform is becoming faster, cheaper and simpler with every passing month.

For that 3G modem is print press, delivery van and paper boy all rolled into one. That’s what we have got to keep reminding ourselves – it’s not a geeky gadget, it’s a survival strategy. It’s a way out of the mess we’re in.

And it’s getting faster, cheaper and simpler.

So ask yourself the next question – if I’m a newspaper exec looking at the latest figures from my production and distribution departments, could I say that it is getting faster, cheaper and simpler? What is the price of diesel doing to my bottom line? Can’t we get these kids to pedal their bikes any faster?

There’s our future; there’s our hope. Sat there on P41 of ‘Live’. Cut it out, stick it on the fridge door and cling onto it…