web

Decline of the homepage

Website consumption patterns are changing. Remember when the main way to surf a website was via its homepage? Well, that was the old days. The rise of super-fast, super-efficient search engines mean that users are increasingly accessing websites via deep links that bypass their homepages directly to a website’s articles. It’s essentially a backdoor into your website. Search engines aren’t the only ones to blame. Bloggers generally link directly to the articles they are writing about, ignoring homepages. RSS feeds, which allow users to subscribe directly to article feeds, are also responsible for the decline of the homepage. So what does this mean? Paradoxically it is both a problem and an opportunity for publishers.

Where are the great online magazines? Where?

Magazines have not enjoyed the same high profile, runaway success of their newspaper counterparts in the online world. Magazines aren’t big online. Websites of print magazines have had a rather low profile in more than 10 years of internet in this country. Compare this to the high-profile online news brands that rake in big numbers and you will see what I mean. It’s no secret that the news brands dominate the top half of the local online readership rankings, whereas very few magazines even make the top 50 sites….

Online ‘permanence’

Imagine a world where you could actively sell advertising on archived content. Well, it’s here. Content on a website should never die. Never, ever. To delete content on a website is a waste. Online articles and their links should be permanent. In the world of the dead tree, articles have limited lifespans. You read your paper, then it’s used to wrap fish and chips, is thrown in the rubbish bin, or lives a lonely life of obscurity in some dusty library archive….

It’s about branding, stupid

Online advertising is not only about clicks, leads and acquisitions… branding is important too. There are a number of competing online advertising models on the net. By far the most dominant one used by online publishers is the Cost-per-Thousand (CPM) model. CPM is the closest online advertising gets to advertising in traditional media. The advertiser pays in advance to place an advert that will be displayed to the website’s readership base, which should generate return on investment. Through the campaign there will be branding for the advertiser, click-throughs on the advert, leads and hopefully acquisition of the product. Everyone’s happy?

Why can’t we all just get along?

The media world is undergoing profound change. We know the great catalyst for these changes has been the onward march of the digital age and the arrival of the internet.

This changing mediascape is often incorrectly portrayed as a battlefield, with two main skirmishes on the go. In the first “battle”, the soldiers have grown weary or just rather bored. This battle involves traditional media (newspapers, radio, TV) versus online media. The second “battle” is a much more interesting to look at. This skirmish involves mainstream media (which in this instance includes online publishers as they mostly practise traditional journalism) versus citizen media, which includes bloggers, vloggers and podcasters….

Battle of the business sites

Websites that report on financial news and information were always going to crack it online. The web is the perfect medium for delivering up-to-the-minute financial news and data. Moreover, the LSM of the average business news reader matches that of the online reader: Both are high. The five biggest consumer-focused business sites, reporting on general financial news in South Africa, are engaged in a tussle to capture a bigger share of this lucrative reader and advertising market….

The state of the blogosphere

According to Dave Sifry on the Technorati blog (the blog search engine) the blogosphere is literally DOUBLING every 5,5 months. There are about 40,7 million blogs around today, so that means if this formula is to be followed that there will be 80-million blogs by the end of 2006. What’s more is that a blog is being posted EVERY SECOND on the world wide web. There are about 50 000 blog posts every hour and 1,2-million legitimate posts per day. Now that is alot of content and alot of blogging.

When’s Technorati listing? I want to buy some shares.

Citizen journalism, let's keep our heads shall we?

Did this interview with Herman Manson of Media Toolbox a popular media newsletter. Here are the questions:

To what extent is the M&G planning to make use of citizen/participatory journalism?
What are people writing about on your blogging service and how does this influence the content of your website and the paper edition?
Do you think participatory journalism will grow beyond community newspapers (for which it does seem perfect) to national news organisations locally? Internationally the BBC recently announced a move to integrate more citizen generated content into its services.

My answers over the page

Internet useage in Africa: Top countries

It’s time to wake up, Telkom.

Here are the top ranking internet countries in Africa by internet hosts. I got this from Arthur Goldstuck’s comprehensive report, which you can get on his website.

Shows that, as a continent, we have a lot to catch up still. Thankfully the consensus is that South Africa is now set for more expansion, although expensive telecoms are still holding us back. A new challenger to the fixed line monopoly Telkom has been licensed but that is going to take a while to get up and ready and competitive. Broadband is beginning to make an impact here — but again it is expensive (thanks Telkom and cellphone companies).

At one stage South Africa was ranked 11th in the world, but we lost ground as a result of the cost of internet here which ranks among the highest in the world — it’s a wonder that South Africa, despite this, is still by far the top internet country in Africa.

Hopefully Telkom and the cellphone companies will wake up and realise how important ICT is for development of this country. They hopefully will realise that they can make profits without profiteering. South African cell companies (along with our banks who have amongst the highest charges in the world) rank among the most profitable in the world and appear to have so much excess cash that they are aggressive multinationals, moving into countries all over Africa, the Middle East and elsewhere. It’s great for the country, but what about the South African consumer and economy. Give us a break.

Top African internet countries (by internet hosts)

Where are users looking on my webpage?

Have a look at this Google “heat map” that I took from www.google.com/adsense/tips. It shows, according to Google, the locations on your website that users tend to focus on. Google uses this as a guide to show you where you should position Adsense on your site — or any other kind of advert for that matter… or if you don’t like adverts just put important content there. It is an interesting demonstration of where users tend to look on a site.

Nitin Desai from UN wants a combined, killer new media and old media combination

Nitin Desai, Special Advisor to the Secretary General of the United Nations, had a few original words to say on the new wave of “We Media” sweeping the globe. He says that the key challenge – and this is the original part of what he said – is that we face a challenge in finding a business model that can combine the professionalism of the traditional, established media (fact checking; sources; trained journalists; ethics codes and training etc etc) with what we have on the web – the power of collaborative communities, citizen journalism, blogs, collective intelligence, number power etc etc…

The blog phenomenon

When Gutenberg invented the printing press, he freed the publishers. But when the World Wide Web was pioneered by Tim Berners-Lee, it was said that the readers were now freed. The age of the internet has given unprecedented power to the reader by creating one of the most democratic and accessible forms of publishing yet – the blog.

The great convergence sideshow

It’s always been cheap and easy to publish on the web. Big professional, online publishers share the same medium as small-time, personal homepages. Online publishers typically publish at a lower cost than newspapers or magazines, making it an affordable option for shoestring publishers and budding entrepreneurs. It’s why they are in the web business in the first place.

Open source in SA

Something pretty revolutionary is going down in a dusty patch of Limpopo province. It involves billionaire and Africa’s first Astronaut Mark Shuttleworth, a multi-national technology company and the government.

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