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  • International traffic on local websites: Name in Lights

    On Google’s news page recently, Matthew Buckland saw the name of East London’s Dispatch Online above some world famous brands. But could they cash in on it? The other day I saw a story from East London’s Daily Dispatch website, Dispatch Online, highlighted on Google’s news site. It was up there with world famous brands like the New York Times, Washington Post, Guardian and CNN. The Google news search engine had picked up a random Dispatch Online wire report floating in cyberspace on a random shooting in Iraq – and made it the lead for a few hours, relegating a...

  • Why SA’s Online Journalism is Rubbish

    When will online journalism make a real impact in this country? Matthew Buckland says that until online starts to publish more original stories, it’s not going to be taken seriously. There is a movie on circuit at the moment called Shattered Glass. It’s about a rising star journalist, Stephen Glass, who got caught out for fantastically fabricating his articles for The New Republic, one of the US’s most prestigious magazines. The scandal was unthinkable at the time. Of all titles, not The New Republic – the “inflight magazine of Airforce One”. The outrage broke when an online journalist, Adam L....

  • Online advertising: Behind the Growth

    If it’s not the traffic or the advertising model, why is online experience a massive growth in revenues? Matthew Buckland finds some answers in a Standard Bank. case study. A greater number of companies are starting to allocate bigger portions of their advertising spend to this thing called the internet. The figures backing this fact up are relatively well known by now: according to the Online Publishers Association, the sector recorded a prolific increase of 136,7% in 2004. The year before, it showed a largely stagnant 9% increase, and before that there was the dot.bomb decline of about...

  • The online advertising edge

    A great philosopher once said: I think, therefore I click. I think his name was Desmond or something, but click he did. After the click followed the advertiser’s website, which listed the product and allowed Des to buy himself a fine looking chariot and that gladiator suit he had always wanted. You see, this is what online advertising is all about. It goes beyond the branding, allowing people to transact with the advertiser and buy the product right there and then at an online shop. The effectiveness, or lack thereof, of the advertisement can be measured immediately. We can tell...

  • Online advertising: Cautious Optimism

    I’ve always wondered where the gazillions in online advertising revenue went. If the pundits and their skyward-pointing graphs were to be believed, I doubt very much I’d still be working, but filing this column from Mauritius. Of course then it was de rigueur to foam at the mouth over the projected revenue of the reckless dot.boom era. It was all part of the hype: that internet-is-going-to take-over-the-world-and-kill-newspapers mumbo jumbo we all know so well. (more…)

  • The power of information

    People are still asking today how it was that the world failed to mobilise during the Rwanda genocide. Nearly a million Africans were hacked and slaughtered, making it one of the most appalling genocides in history -- yet the world didn’t lift a finger. Could it be that the world (and even Africa itself) doesn’t really care a jot about what happens on the “dark continent”? Or is it the case the world failed to act because there simply wasn’t the right information reaching the right places? It seems hard to believe that a genocide on the scale of Rwanda can...

  • Audio streaming online: Dare to Stream

    Radio “streaming” may draw in a surprising amount of listeners, but the business prospects have yet to evolve. Matthew Buckland considers the current landscape and future prospects of the net’s audio capabilities. Thanks to the world wide web, regional and national South African radio stations have become, in a sense, worldwide broadcasters. Stations like 5FM or Joburg’s 94.7 Highveld Stereo can now be picked up, via the net, anywhere from Khayelitsha to Kazakhstan. Primedia’s 94.7 boasts about 200,000 streams every month, and its sister station 702 about 95,000. The SABC’s 5FM – one of the first stations in South Africa...

  • South African websites: Who’re the Big Fish?

    South Africa’s online publishers pulled in about 3,5-million unique users or readers and about 106-million page impressions in the month of August. It’s the first time we have been able to get this kind of overall picture of the industry and measure the big publishers together on the same, powerful statistics system, with this level of detail and accuracy. We know now that we have two publishers far ahead of the pack. They are Media24 and Independent Online (IOL), both drawing in more than a million readers each. The statistics show that IOL is the country’s biggest online publisher, with...

  • Mugabe’s Online Nightmare

    Net Savvy Mugabe’s Online Nightmare The Daily News website and Zimonline continue to publish news critical of the Mugabe regime, and there’s not much Jonathan Moyo can do about it. Matthew Buckland looks at the power of websites as tools of democracy in Africa. When South African mainstream media were covering the banning and demise of Zimbabwe’s biggest independent daily paper, the Daily News, what wasn’t widely reported was that the title continued publishing from outside Zimbabwe’s borders via another medium: the internet. The Daily News had cleverly registered a website address, www.daily-news.co.za, in neighbouring South Africa...

  • Google ads fuel dot.com recovery

    In case you were one of the billions who thought Google was just a search engine, think again. It’s so much more. It is one of the most sophisticated, targeted network advertising agencies on the net or anywhere. Those seemingly innocuous text ads that have been popping up on search engines, news and content sites all over the world are part of a new-generation, mega-successful network advertising model, called keyword search advertising. We are now starting to see these Google ads on a few South African sites, including Independent Online (IOL), which was probably the first of the major...

  • Cellphone and new media — Promised Land?

    There is a common lament among online publishers these days, and it goes something like this: If only the internet was invented by a businessman. For online publishers, the internet is free. It’s always been free and that’s why – unless you’re an ISP, a niched content service or a porn site – it’s been so difficult to pry revenue out of it. So you can imagine online publishers’ delight at the arrival of the cellphone. Now here is an interactive platform that, from the word go, ensures that users pay for interacting with content. You receive news headlines, you...

  • Joe Bloggs ‘Journalism’

    Everyone’s heard of Joe Bloggs. A few have heard about Salam Pax. So what do the two have in common? They are both ordinary people, the grassroots, the citizenry. Joe Bloggs refers to the fictional everyday man and Salam Pax is a real, everyday Iraqi that captured the imagination of the world press during the Iraq war. (more…)

  • Cocking Up Convergence

    Let's start with the good news. We have a Convergence Bill. It has good intentions. It aims to promote the growth, diversity and the liberalisation of the communications industry. It aims to promote much-needed black empowerment in the sector. And it is generally an admirable attempt by government to ensure the laws of the country keep up with the supersonic pace of technological advancement. In a nutshell "convergence" is the techno buzzword that refers to the increasing overlap between communications technologies such as television, radio, websites and cellphones. Today we can listen to the radio or watch video over the...

  • Hyperbole no longer

    Convergence got a bad rap from the troubled AOL Time Warner merger, but the phenomenon is making steady progress. Matthew Buckland looks at some of the local successes. Somewhat of a quiet revolution appears to be taking place in South Africa’s media world. Late last year News 24 launched their 24-hour interactive news channel 59 on DStv. It’s not quite a TV channel and not quite a website. What we are seeing here is the start of the successful application of this thing called “convergence”. The now-infamous AOL Time Warner merger was staked on the convergence of the internet (AOL) with television,...

  • SA’s quiet revolution

    Somewhat of a quiet revolution appears to be taking place in South Africa’s media world. Late last year News24 launched their 24-hour interactive news channel 59 on DSTV. It’s not quite a TV channel and not quite a website. In fact it is something in between. What we are seeing here is the start of something pretty amazing and pretty big. It’s a successful application of what is known as “convergence”. Convergence hasn’t had good press lately: The now-infamous AOL Time Warner deal -- a merger which created the world’s biggest media monster -- was sold on this thing called convergence. On...