There are many a theme that we seem to stumble across and these two pieces return to one of the more familiar – a digital landscape that, to my mind, will be defined by two compelling forces, local-stroke-hyper-local and national-stroke-global.

Here’s G-Cap Media shifting their radio tents every more into the latter camp… http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2008/apr/24/gcapmedia.radio 

… and from the same Guardian Media page, here’s ITN getting in something of a lather about ITV’s decision to pull their tanks back off the local news lawns… http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2008/apr/23/itv.television 

GCap’s decision will hit downtown Loddon; we’re part of Radio Broadland, a little local GCap off-shoot; I actually did an interview with Jo Chandler for them this afternoon… my thoughts on Norwich City’s pre-season tour to Sweden now you ask…

But someone in her building is about to get squeezed out of their usual slot to make way for some one-size-fits-all, homogenised show packaged up in a studio in London somewhere.

Clearly it’s a numbers game; that people are looking at their spread-sheets, consulting their triangles and making a call… as media fragments and traditional viewing, reading and listening habits shatter into so many pieces can we still afford do both? To be both local and national? To serve two audiences…

No, appears their answer; ITV, in fairness, are at least trying to cover a few of those regional bases with www.itvlocal.com but the foot-soldiers on the ground are going.

What’s interesting when you look at today’s latest set of ABCe figures is the way that both The Telegraph, The Daily Mail and The Guardian are beginning to move from a national UK platform into a global one as they find all these huge new audiences in the States… 

Equally, as they start to dip their toe into that water, to their delight they discover the likes of the New York Times and the Washington Post under-going a real identity crisis. There’s no sense of them returning the compliment and parking a tank or two in the UK; quite the reverse.

I read somewhere that the Post was pondering whether it shouldn’t retreat ‘inside the Beltway’ – which I presume is their M25 – ie just as the Guardian, Telegraph and Co ‘go global’, so the Post may be going back local.

But what The Guardian and The Telegraph are also keenly aware of is the opportunity that still exists on local lawns; what’s taxing them is how to do both; how to organise themselves with sufficient elegance and financial economy that they can be both big inside the Beltway and bigger in Belper.

Because you look through those same Guardian Media pages and there’s something else going on – amongst those that are neither one thing, nor the other; neither hyper-local nor national-stroke-global.

That’s where you don’t want to be; stuck in the middle; that’s the real no-man’s land; that’s where the first, big casualties will come. Just ask the good people of Belper, Stamford, Whittlesey and Deepings…

http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2008/apr/24/trinitymirror.pressandpublishing

We’re clearly not there yet. We’ve still got a CMS to finish, Addiply to launch and the kids to run the beta trial version, but if there is a future then it lies with ripping up the old established order and starting all over again; giving something else a go…

In no particular order, www.mylocalwriter.com/stamford, www.mylocalwriter.com/deepings, www.mylocalwriter.com/belper, www.mylocalwriter.com/whittlesey

 

 

 

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If only because I laid my Google revenue cards on the table early on…

https://outwithabang.wordpress.com/2008/03/17/lesson-no37a-for-all-that-follow-dont-pin-your-hopes-on-good-ol-uncle-google/ 

…this was interesting, Jeff Jarvis of Buzzmachine and Guardian column fame doing the same… and, in paricular, what Google did for him last year.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2008/apr/14/5

For those of you who are hard of linking, the two paragraphs to put side-by-side are, first the MFW ‘experience’… 

“Take, for example, our Google AdSense numbers since March ‘07.

“406,002 impressions, 846 clicks…. $223. So I did Google a disservice at JEECamp. Apologies. When I said $180 for 400,000 page impressions I was $40 out and 6,000 page impressions under. We made £110 in a year…”

To be then followed by the Buzzmachine one…

“Last year, Buzzmachine.com, which has been in business, loosely speaking, since 2001, made $9,315 (£4,655) from two blog ad networks, $1,866 from ads on my RSS feeds, and $2,674 from Google ads, for a total of $13,855. Though I’ve written many a blog post and column lamenting that there aren’t better, richer ad networks to support grassroots media, when I add that up, I’d say it’s not too shabby…

I, however, would describe our own Google ads income as shabby. If not particularly shabby. Or, indeed, utterly shabby. I might also describe it as someone having a laugh…

And let’s make several things clear; we’re not running like-for-like – it’s a horribly inexact science; the comparisons don’t stand up; we didn’t, for example, run AdSense for a full calendar year; if we had, who knows? We could have cracked the $300 mark…

But what I would be intrigued to know is just how hard our Jeff had to work to earn that $2,674…

Given that Buzzmachine has ‘loosely speaking’  been in business since 2001, he’s clearly had to work his ‘brand’ for at least five years (2001-2006) before earning a thousand quid off Google in Year Six…

I earned my princely sum off 400,000 page impressions – and all on the back of busting my b*lls twice a day to deliver two, great 1,000-word ‘sticky’ reads to the waiting Norwich City masses who, come January’s transfer window month, were 33,000 monthly uniques strong.

Plus we had coulmnists, characters and all sorts. We worked – indeed, still work – our collective n*ts off draging football punters to that site with a quality journalistic product that, we hoped, would offer enough context, comment and quotes that it would not only drag eyeballs there, it would keep eyeballs there.

And, touch wood, it appears to work. That’s back to my 436-second average visit time for the month of January. Seven minutes every time they visit.

Because it’s a passionate niche. Just as the future of news is.

What would be very interesting to discover is just what numbers Buzzmachine.com generates in terms of uniques, page impressions and average visit times to pop a cheque for £1,300 from Google into Jeff’s hands at the end of the year….

I’ve no idea. I read it most days. As, I suspect, many a media-luvvie does.

And because it is, more often than not, a well-informed and engaging read, my eye-balls stay fixed. And if, for argument’s sake, me and Jeff run at roughly similar numbers per month – my www.myfootballwriter.com/norwichcity versus his www.buzzmachine.com – then fair enough, he cracked the Google nut more than I did.

Maybe – he says, looking for his excuses – Jeff is actually mining a richer niche seam; that the ads that appear on his site are far more click-appealing than those that ever appeared on ours; that maybe ‘football’ and ‘Norwich’ never quite made sense as ads.

And maybe it’s just a case of being patient – that come Year Six, 2012, I too could be pulling £1,000 a year back off them. In the unlikely event I was still pinning many of my hopes on Google by then…

Don’t know.

Fotunately, we didn’t put all our eggs in Google’s basket – and, nor, of course did Jeff. He’s got two blog ad network tickets working his brand; covering his ass to the tune of £4,500 a year.

Me? I’ve got Kev acting as MFW’s tail-end Charlie – trying to pick off every local advertiser we can find; as well as those national ones that like the cut of our demographics. Three cheers for the British Army… newly-signed up for a year-long banner ad deal on all three sites.

It’s still a tough nut to crack. Very tough in these credit crunch times. But they’re out there; all starting to think what they would do next if they didn’t have a local evening paper to advertise in… And if I can pull, say, £2,000 per month off the Norwich site in Pay-Per-Month advertising, that’s not too shabby either.

Particularly, if we can then find further revenue streams to add to our income bow.

Because that’s the real point. For all we do, for all the hours we write and for all the pavements we pound, the jury is still out as to whether advertising of any sort will – on its own – be enough to save our bacon.

And that applies to all of us. From The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph, The New York Times down… is there enough value in what we ‘sell’ in terms of advertising space to guarantee our survival?

No.

Just ask our Jeff. Without a column or two up his sleeve, a consultancy here and there and a teaching gig at CUNY, could he survive on $13,855 a year. Just over six grand…?

No.

Exactly. No.

 

 

On basis of my ‘900 feet up and the only way to go is down…’ headline being deemed something of a depressing thought to go to bed with, I thought we’d go into the weekend in a more positive frame of mind.

Because as much as we all witter on about the mess we’re in and how none of us from the BBC down have much of a clue what we’re doing – how we’re ever going to squeeze that newsprint quart into a web pint pot – at least it’s heartening to know that there is still one group of professionals out there with even less of a clue as to which way this world is heading than us.

There is, it seems, a risk of snow this weekend.

As for the summer…

“The Met Office this week warned that the summer was likely to be hotter and wetter than in recent years. It is predicting a return to the traditional British summer of “three fine days and then a thunderstorm”.

“Forecasters have refused to rule out a repeat of last year’s torrential rain, which caused widespread flooding. Nor would they rule out an extremely dry summer,” ran The Guardian’s weather story today.

“Dr Brian Golding, Met Office head of forecasting, said: “We expect the temperature to be above average. In terms of rainfall we are looking at an indication of above average to average.

“We think it’s likely to be a case of a few fine days and then there’s a band of rain, perhaps some thunderstorms and then it warms up again…”

So, to sum up Brian, this summer could be either very wet, very hot or very dry. Or, indeed, all three…

In fact, the only thing you appear to be ruling out is the prospect of this summer being very cold.

So warm the cockles of your journalistic heart with that thought. Because if the Internet is in danger of screwing the way that we do our business, global warming has clearly long since f*cked the way that weather forecasters do their’s…

I knew there was something else. Something else that had niggled away all day.

This.

http://www.currybet.net/cbet_blog/2008/03/google_hijacks_newspaper_search.php

That’s brilliant. Top spot. Or if not spotted, then illustrated.

And while we’re handing out medals, I stumbled across it on Martin Stabe’s blog.

What the newspapers concerned do next will be fascinating to watch. Cos I’d show Google the door…

Don’t get me wrong, Google is the biggest and best taxi service in this web-world; they get me from A to B in an instant. But being an oh-so ‘umble news provider, I’ve never quite got the best out of the other string to their mighty bow, advertising. There again, I don’t have Ernst & Young advising me…

But as a taxi service, superb. They bring the punters straight to my door.

But go back to marvellous Martin, and let’s talk it through. I’m a Norwich fan; I’m not, be we digress…

I’m a Norwich fan; fancy seeing what’s in the Telegraph; so I hail my Google taxi, ‘To the ‘Telegraph’ pal…’ and they arrive at the front door…

Now at this point – if I were the Telegraph – I’d open the door, let the punter out and tip the driver before he left. And then it would be a case of walking with them into our newly-decorated hallway and asking them where they’d like to go next…

‘Sport, please…’

‘Of course, sir. Step this way….’ all in the hope that, en route, they’d notice the fact that we’d actually just had the hallway done; that something smelt nice in the kitchen.

Strikes me that our Google taxi driver is now through the hall and up the stairs before anyone has had time to notice.

Having arrived in the teenage kid’s bedroom that does for ‘Sport’, I can then rummage away through the drawer of dirty underpants until I get to the one with the Canary logo on the front. But if I was The Telegraph, The Guardian, etc… I’d want the taxi driver to be still stood on the front door-step waiting for my return and then to be told where to go next.

Because if I was those ever-so clever people from Google and I did that ‘Taxi for Telegraph Sport: Norwich City run…’ often enough, the next time I hailed a cab, they would have been able – through force of my habit – to predict exactly which smelly drawer I wanted to go to thereby missing out whatever was on the hall, on the stairway and in the bedroom altogether… and it would be their predictive advertising adorning the landing walls….

Now if all I was ever interested in was getting so many uniques into said bedroom drawer and wasn’t that bothered how, exactly, they got there and how many muddy feet were trampling over my newly-laid search carpet in the hall, then fine.

But if we think that the great circulation battles of the future are going to be for the global ABCe’s, what happens if – as an advertiser – I’m now faced with The Telegraph, The Times, The Guardian and The Daily Mail all locked in and around the 15 million uniques per month mark?

Where’s my next measure?

I think – or rather, I hope – it’s time. That within those four walls of your digital home you provide enough ‘sticky’ content to keep the eyeballs lingering over what’s on the hall table, what’s left on the landing, etc, etc… for longer than any of your nearest and dearest rivals.

I’ve dealt in fag packet numbers for the last two years; I’m not about to change.

But, let’s just say, that to get to said dirty pants drawer it takes me four pages – on a first visit. Five seconds, in total. Provided, of course, that I haven’t stepped in anything ‘sticky’ en route.

And let’s say my 15 million month uniques on average visit twice a month.

That’s 30 million visits; average ‘journey’ time to what’s behind the fridge, in the bottom kitchen cabinet, behind the lamp in the lounge, etc, etc… is our 5 seconds. On average.

30 mill x 5 is 150 million seconds; that’s 2.5 million minutes; that’s… ooh… five years worth of eye-ball time a month I’m giving away cos I won’t ask the taxi driver to leave his passenger at the front door.

Mmm.