30 October 2005

Big-Butt Metrics for the Long-Tail World

Check out Jeff Jarvis's post on audience measurement at BuzzMachine. He makes the point that traditional panel-based and survey-based methods, which ain't perfect even for mass media (see ChasNote 8/29/05), really fall apart when they attempt to count audiences at niche publications:

To get apples-to-apples numbers for those other, older, major media, advertisers rely on allegedly representative samples. But you can never get a sample big enough to deal with the mass of niches.... they’ll never get enough knitters to measure the knitting bloggers. They can measure a few of the biggest bloggers. But that’s not what this medium is all about.

His second (perhaps more important) point is that the blunt instruments of reach and frequency (bare-bones quantity metrics) ignore qualitative aspects of audience behavior that would give advertisers greater insight into suitability of various ad environments:

This isn’t just about collecting and verifying audience and pageview numbers — and demographics and behavior — though all that is important. This is also about collecting data that can be collected only in this medium of the people and gives us unique value: authority, influence, conversation-starting, relationships, loyalty, engagement.

The gang here at Federated Media whole-heartedly supports the effort to build new measurement standards! When I brought up "big butt advertisers" on the panel last month, I meant not only that lots of niche publishers create meaningful mass when they band together; I meant also to remind us online publishers that the big-volume ad spenders (beautiful big butts, in my opinion) will demand that we work on their terms, providing performance metrics that are as much Broadcast 1.0 as they are Web 2.0. What's great about Jeff's recommendation is that it includes enough from the old-school (authority, influence, loyalty and engagement) to build a credible foundation onto which we can add some new fangled blog metrics like "conversation-starting."

28 October 2005

ChasNote RSS Feed Enabled

ChasNote is ready to plug into your very own news aggregator! I haven't yet figured out how to post one of those fancy orange buttons on the site, but click here for the ChasNote RSS feed. Or type "" into your RSS reader. (Thanks, Andre!)

How to Beat Back the Bloggers

Forbes offers tips to companies on how to fight back against the blogs (reg req): "Attack of the Blogs".

Blogs started a few years ago as a simple way for people to keep online diaries. Suddenly they are the ultimate vehicle for brand-bashing, personal attacks, political extremism and smear campaigns. It's not easy to fight back: Often a bashing victim can't even figure out who his attacker is. No target is too mighty, or too obscure, for this new and virulent strain of oratory.

How is it that these obscure crazies -- these bloggers -- who post lies to home-cooked websites no one visits have so much dang power?? I'm starting to wonder if these unstoppable brand-bashing bulldozers are, in fact, terrific platforms for introducing & enhancing those very same brands. If you agree, CALL ME! No, seriously. Get in touch via Federated Media's site.

For more insightful (and funnier) commentary, check out Xeni's post at Boing Boing, which begins, "Won't someone please think of the corporations?"

27 October 2005

Rishad T on Trading Demos for Passions

Check out Business Week's piece on SMG's Rishad Tobaccowala, "Hey, Advertisers, TiVo Is Your Friend". His secret to success: "abandoning consumer demographics in favor of targeting buyers' passions."

26 October 2005

Loyalty Created by Taking, Not Just Giving

Seth Godin presents an interesting theory on the connection between personal cash investment in an organization (say your alma mater) and loyalty to that organization, "Ben's Insight". Even if the dollar amount is insignificant, the act of taking someone's money increases his or her loyalty to you.

Yale wants Ben Stein's money so that Ben will be inclined to do the things that Yale really wants: send over great students, hire graduates, talk up the school and maintain its place in the pantheon of liberal arts colleges. And donors are far more likely to do that than disconnected alum.

I would extend this concept to non-cash contributions as well. In my days at CNET, we saw that readers who posted comments or user reviews (investments of time and ego) became more frequent visitors to those sites. Loyalty to the leading blog sites, which bring their readers even more deeply into the content creation process, seems to support the theory as well. More than 80% of Boing Boing readers and 75% of Searchblog readers report to reading those sites at least once a day. Once a day! On a webcast panel last week, Pajamas Media's Vik Rubenfeld shared similar stats for two of their politics sites: Little Green Footballs, where 75% claim to read daily, and Roger L. Simon's site, where 57% do.

This pattern, if it holds, means that citizens' journalism has much more to offer media companies than just cheap content.

24 October 2005

Separating the Blog Stars from the Blog Dogs

The title of a recent Gary Stein post made me laugh, "Are Blogs the Ad Inventory Solution?" Poor old blogs -- the butt of every joke these days! When Gary takes his tongue out of his cheek, he offers up some sound advice: Amidst all the hype around blogs, all 19-odd million of them, it's crucial to separate the stars from the dogs before you invest big ad dollars in them:

the write up of the sale of WebLogs, Inc to AOL has BusinessWeek writing about blogs as fantastic source of ad inventory. Advertisers might take heart in this fact, but the existence of blog ad inventory should be taken with a huge dose of caution by advertisers, and their decision to advertise needs to come down to one critical factor: quality.

TV Commercials for iPods

Rafat wonders when TV-style commericals will make their way onto iPods (

For now, ABC, which is providing TV show downloads for it at $1.99 an episode, says that won't be the case. But skeptics don't believe it. "TiVo and satellite radio were not ad-supported but they are loosening their guidelines to accept ads," said Brad Adgate, research director at Horizon Media. "It really depends on the finances of Apple."

While Apple may own the decision in the short term, I'm guessing on-demand mobile video will proliferate beyond iPods, and the content providers (have you heard this one before?) will trade the pay-per-view model for widespread, ad-supported viewership. Yup, podmercials are coming.

18 October 2005

When Does a Blog Become an "Online Publication"?

A colleague recently asked me to define "blogs." Here's what I came up with:

The term "blog" (short for "weblog") is used to describe websites that are built on easy-to-use software platforms (eg, TypePad, WordPress, MoveableType or Blogger) that allow writers with no engineering know-how to publish their content to the web. One aspect of these platforms is that each new "post" -- an original article or a link to another site -- automatically appears at the top of the homepage, pushing previous posts down the page. So most blogs organize their content in chronological order (newest to oldest), rather than into features, sections or content categories the way standard online magazines do. But as blogs get more sophisticated and have deeper archives of content (see GigaOm or Gadgetopia) some have begun to categorize their content around topics. I'm guessing that a year from know we will have a hard time telling the difference between blogs and other online publications.

Jakob Nielsen's post on the top 10 biggest usability problems across the blogosphere ( has some great advice for blogs that are ready to make the move. He advises against several of the crappy UI features you see here -- chronological archiving that buries the best posts, calendar-only navigation, and, worst of all, "Having a weblog address ending in,, etc. will soon be the equivalent of having an email address or a Geocities website: the mark of a naïve beginner who shouldn't be taken too seriously."

Those of you reading this at, please visit my more sophistocated alter-blog at!

14 October 2005

Tom Foremski Pitches for IBM Ad Dollars

Tom Foremski argues in his SiliconValleyWatcher post that IBM should change their no-ads-on-blogs policy. Right on, Tom!

I'm not too worried about IBM's decision not to advertise on blogs because I'm certain that it can be changed.

Especially since IBM will, sooner than later, realize there is something much bigger going on, and that it has an opportunity to play a large role--maybe even a historic one--in helping to birth the new media.

It would take but a fraction of its massive marketing budget to help the new media sector find business models that work. And those models might look very different from today's models, based on advertising/marketing messages found in newspapers and magazines.

I would add that the new media sector is likely to find business models that work, whether or not IBM helps shape them. The question is, does IBM want HP, Dell and Microsoft alone to define those models?

12 October 2005

BW's Jon Fine Launches Blog

Jon Fine's On Media column has spawned a blog, Fine On Media. I like the headline for his post on The Journal's Saturday edition, Weakend.

10 October 2005

A Craigslist Moment

In his Times column today, David Carr says print newspapers need "an iPod moment," a disruptive technology that eventually revitalizes the industry it seemed destined to destroy. The problem for newspapers, as he sees it, is that reading them required your full attention:

"For all the print newspaper's elegance -- it is a very portable, searchable technology -- it has some drawbacks. A paper is a static product in a dynamic news age, and while every medium is after eyeballs, the industry has to take that quite literally. You cannot read this story while driving in your car -- which is how most of America commutes -- and you cannot have it on in the background. America is hooked on 'companion' media, a pet platform that sits in the corner and pays attention to you when you pay attention to it."

I disagree. The problem with newspapers is less about reader attention (too much required or too little paid) than it is about marketing efficiency. Local papers used to be the great communications platform for neighborhoods, towns & cities. As such, they enabled streamlined, one-to-one commerce by way of classified advertising -- the life-blood of the newspaper business.

So forget about an iPod moment, some innovation that entices more people to read print newspapers again. Yesterday I had a Craigslist moment, a taste of the service's dreamy community-connecting power. I hadn't purged enough old furniture before moving & found myself with a sun-bleached couch & a wobbly bureau that didn't fit in my new house. I couldn't track down a friend with a station wagon (to drive the items to Good Will), so I posted a classified at Craigslist in the "free" section. Forty-five minutes after uploading the ad, two young women hauled away the couch & bureau in their Subaru. Within an hour I was helping another guy take away my broken-down moving boxes. Service with a smile! It's only services like this -- not re-tooling its articles to be consumed as "companion" content -- that will save newspapers.

06 October 2005

AOL Buys Weblogs Inc

The gang at PaidContent confirms that AOL has bought Jason Calacanis's Weblogs Inc. No price tag announced. They also have this quote from Gawker's Nick Denton:

"The acquisition of WIN by AOL is exhilirating news, in many respects, most of which I shouldn't list here. For what it's worth, Gawker isn't for sale. The whole point about blogs is that they're not part of big media. Consolidation defeats the purpose. It's way too early. Like a decade too early."

Hmm. If consolidation defeats the purpose now, what's going to change in 10 years (when Gawker goes up for sale)?

04 October 2005

ClickZ on Federated Media

Zackary Rodgers in ClickZ compares Federated Media (my employer) with Philip Kaplan's AdBrite -- and talks about our common threat, Google.

"Battelle's Federated Media Publishing is sophisticated, services-driven and built for the A-list (to use a dirty word). We're talking BoingBoing and Om Malik. Very CPM.....

"Battelle's FMP is also about giving control to publishers, but the deals are one-off and the sites are cream of the crop. The list of bloggers he's working with -- whom he calls 'authors' -- reads like a roll call of the best and brightest in online tech and tech-influenced culture. They include BoingBoing,, Om Malik, and Matt Haughey-run sites Metafilter and PVRblog....

"'[Google's new site-specific ad model is] kind of a mash-up of Pud's and my idea,' said Battelle, referring to Google's tests. 'I think that's fine, and I think that keeps us honest, and I look forward to proving that the relationship that we create is more valuable. I don't take anything they might do lightly, believe me. I'm sure that if their ads perform better for all parties concerned than ours, people will use them. We'll see.'"

At least it was Pud and not Battelle who used the phrase "douche-baggy"!

03 October 2005 Rates Up, Relevance Down?

If you can actually get readers to pay to visit your site, it must be just too darn tempting not to milk them for more. At least that seems to be the thinking at WSJ. But I don't get it. I thought Dow Jones spent all that money on MarketWatch because the paid gate at -- while generating substantial revenue -- locked them out (mostly) from the bigger opportunity in online advertising. And, because marketplace cred is necessary if your business depends on advertisers or readers paying you, the paid-content model, which prevents other news sites (especially blogs) from spreading your news because they can't link to your content, also limits your relevance among people who get their information via the Internet. Mike at TechDirt puts it well:

"It seems that the WSJ is caught in some sort of bind, right now. It wants to experiment more and join back in with the online conversation by doing things like having an occasional free story -- but the business folks are only looking at the bottom line and not the big picture. The reporting is still top notch in most cases, but the value may be decreasing as it doesn't allow itself to be part of the conversation."

Google's Block-by-Block Ad Targeting

Glenn Fleishman at WifiNetNews on Google's motivation for providing free city-wide wifi for San Francisco -- super ad targeting that doesn't violate consumer privacy:

"They’re aiming to move more advertising dollars out of the devastated newspaper business in the city and suck more life from telephone book display advertising. National advertising in the U.S. comprised $45 billion the first half of 2005; local advertising, $26 billion. Because Google will run the network, they can deliver ads targeted to the city block for folks using their Wi-Fi network without knowing anything about the individual consumer, as it will be entirely based on the Wi-Fi network not consumer characteristics. I imagine Google views this as a massive experiment and money well spent."