Adblock arms race

„The fundamental problem with advertising as a business model though, is that customers don’t like it unless it is very unobtrusive, and the industry is largely incapable of self control in that respect (did you know that most people install ad blockers due to worry about use of their data to „personalise“ them). It is a „tragedy of the commons“ problem in that it is always to the advantage of the „ad-overgrazer“, so cheaters prosper – so it’s always just easier to assume the endgame, i.e. they are all acting in bad faith – and block the lot.“

The world of pop-up ads is coming to an end, thanks to ad blocker tools, conscious customers and less intrusive ads. Albeit, subtle ads are not necessarily the more likeable way to communicate commercialism, especially when your friends promote products in their digital channels and you’re not quite sure if it’s an ad or not.

We could do with media education as a required course in schools these days, or we’ll see the beloved ad-overgrazers pop-up in the minds of our future generations without even noticing it.

via broadstuff

Exporting Soft Culture

global-handelsblatt-title
One of the sluggish, paywall pages at Handelsblatt Global Edition.

Germans are great at exporting heavy machinery, yet lackluster at exporting soft culture in form of professional, news media publications in English.

There have been some, partly lovable attempts from German media companies, to establish and attract a global audience in English. So far, only Spiegel International can play with the big boys in term of reach and relevance. Once up and running was Berlin Worldwide in the early 2000s, but Springer pulled the plug after the numbers didn’t add up. Bild, Germany’s biggest tabloid, tried as well and pulled the same plugs after a few years – it can’t even be found in the archives.

berlinworldwide-title
A former title page of Berlin Worldwide in the Waybackmachine.

Then there’s The Local, run by Swedes, doing digital only news with a solid run. Just recently, Handelsblatt launched it’s English edition into a paywall and is gaining some traction. The idea itself is unique, since there isn’t one notable business media staple, Made in Germany, in the world’s lingua franca. Personally, I think it’s a bit too patriotic, which in itself is worth a century of dissertations, what it means to be a patriotic German, or better European. At least it’s possible to do big global business without guilt, by exporting heavy machinery, which includes tanks and guns. Technically the site is pretty sluggish and could see some usability updates.

Then there’s ZEITmagazin’s „Berlin State of Mind“ print only cultural read, which launched in 2013. Funny that a Hamburg-based media company needs Berlin as it’s tag line. I think it’s the most ambitious soft culture zine about and from Germany out there. Glossy, yet with a solid editorial focus on photography and aesthetics. Too bad, you can’t really find it on the Interwebs or order it for English speakers to understand. Last but not least, there’s Deutsche Welle, pretty much a force funded political arm of the German Foreign Ministry, albeit in 30 languages and ad free!

I wonder whether German culture isn’t made for a truly global read. If you look at The Economist, BBC or The Guardian, who’ve had a head start in terms of language competence, as well as some notable Empire experience, the Brits are clearly the true global media players. I think US publications are too America-centric and lack a certain cultural sensibility that drifts away from I’m a fifth Irish or NBA world championship rings.

Maybe a truly European global voice is needed, one that transcends borders, knowing that planet earth is tiny, yet embraces local patriotism with years of experience, unhurried and diverse, with the tightest data privacy, football and olives in the world.

Bubble Filter Blase

bubble-tea-frankfurt
Foto: White Rabbit 3000

Der mündige Internet-Citoyens lässt sich gerne mal treiben im Auffinden von Inhalten. Je älter der Mensch, desto weniger Quellen bezieht er oder sie, oder lässt sich durch neue inspirieren.

Vom Blog-Blick habe ich mich immer gerne überraschen lassen, auch vom Altpapier, beides erschien in der mittlerweile voll automatisierten Netzeitung, wobei das Altpapier Unterschlupf bei den Christen gefunden hat. Wer sich für Autos interessiert, dem kann ich die Rundschau von Björn empfehlen, als Verlinkung und Kommentar anderer autophiler Blogger. Und weil ich bewusst ohne Fernseher und Hörzu lebe, sind die Mediathek Tipps von Flo Abhilfe im Netz des Bewegtbilds. Ein Pionier des Filters von Presseerzeugnissen im Web ist Perlentaucher, der mutig gegen FAZ und SZ gekämpft hat. Auch die Börsenblogger gönnen sich eine Presseschau. Im digitalen Wust zu empfehlen sind die links vom jeweiligen Tag des wirres. Und das stadtkindFFM blickt in die eigens gefilterte Blogwelt.

Es sind Quellen, denen ich vertrauen kann, weil ich sie kenne, sie sind vertraut, doch, Vertrauen wird jeden Tag erneuert, nur mit Zeit gewinnt die Relevanz.

 

Quartz: Back to the Open Web

Quartz Big

Everyone wants to be a hub. Facebook is the ultimate centralized social click monster. Show me a news executive who embraces the original idea of the internet: decentralized modes of knowledge to share information across various networks.

Quartz, a new digital business news portal with a mobile focus, is going back to the roots with a global view. No pay walls. No hub mongering. No eyeball ego. Yes to WordPress. Yes to same window links. Yes to focused topics and HTML5.

I think within that global biz niche, Quartz has solid shot of becoming an unhurried staple, yet with up to date unintrusive advertising and loyal readers. Albeit, it’s not all that open. You can’t comment on any of the articles, a staff of 20 journalists curate and write the content, and it’s not always that original. Looks like sharing is the new commenting.

via Kevin J. Delaney

How We Will Read

This post is part of “How We Will Read,” an interview series exploring the future of books from the perspectives of publishers, writers, and intellectuals. Read our kickoff post with Steven Johnson here.

If you could move one feature of paper books to digital books, what would that be?

Skimming. It’s a funny thing with print vs. ebooks; the digital age is supposed to be all about attention deficit disorder and hypertextual distractions, but ebooks lock you into reading them in a linear fashion more than print books do. It’s much easier to pick up a print book and flip through the pages, get a sense of the argument or structure, than it is with an ebook (or magazine.) It’s a very interesting interface challenge: I think it’s probably solvable, and I know many smart folks are working on it, but we don’t have a true solution yet.

Newspapers, Paywalls, and Core Users

Paywalls were an attempt to preserve the old mass+mass model after a transition to digital distribution. With so few readers willing to pay, and therefore so few readers to advertise to, paywalls instead turned newspapers into a niche+niche business. What the article threshold creates is an odd hybrid — a mass market for advertising, but a niche market for users. As David Cohn has pointed out, this is the commercial equivalent of the National Public Radio model, where sponsors reach all listeners, but direct suport only comes from donors. (Lest NPR seem like small ball, it’s worth noting that the Times ‘ has convinced something like one out of every hundred of its online readers to pay, while NPR affiliates’ success rate is something like one in twelve. Newspapers with thresholds now aspire to NPR’s persuasiveness.) Paywalls encourage a paper to focus on the value of their content. Thresholds encourage them to focus on the value of their users.

via Clay Shirky

News as Commodity

Some recent thoughts or what Torill Mortensen claims, weblogs „are changing the way we think about thinking.“

An old saying, old news is no news still holds ground, despite communication scholars concerns with a definition of news and less with the question of what is not news. A directed report about a supposed event is inherently information.

When talking about information, Shannon’s mathematical theory of communication justifies the use of bits as a universal currency of information in many contexts, supported by his transmission theorems and source-channel theorems. Information that is news poses the question of time dependence and subsequent relation to the economics of news as a commodity.

Purchasing news is an experience, once viewed, its novelty wears off. And knowing too much about information before viewing reduces the desire to experience it, whereas higher information uncertainty increases chance of purchase.

Information E-Quality

Remember the early hype about everyone being a Net publisher and the possibility of 1001 viewpoints? Maybe that is what Gutenberg had in mind too. What online media do you consume? How many independent viewpoints do we consume?

Anno 1994: Internet reporter Matt Drudge starts his infamous drudgereport.com. He breaks the Lewinsky scandal, is the first to name vice-presidential nominee in 1996, and first to break the unholy alliance between Microsoft and NBC. All from his Hollywood apartment, a phone line, modem, and a 486 Packard Bell computer.

A year later, Salon.com launches and is quickly hailed as a true independent voice. It still is quality journalism today, only with a small change since January of this year: everyone has to pay. A model for the future? Even though the online advertising industry continues to grow, MSNBC.com or Spiegel.de usurp most of the revenue

So what happened to the 1001 viewpoints then? Blogs are surely providing some interesting viewpoints. By now, publishing a web page is easier than setting up your VCR. Thanks to blogger.com or sunlogs.ch. Type, click post, and your done.

Giving access to a medium, allowing opinions of citizens to be heard is essential towards the health of any democracy. More importantly, based on understanding different viewpoints, quality journalism on the Net is becoming harder to find, focus is on find.

As a publisher or journalist, striving for objectivity has been the ultimate ethical goal. Without this qualitative filter, opinions often turn out to be based on personal sentiments rather than arguments. Still, the Net’s potential to present different viewpoints is larger than ever before. More publishers, more web sites, more opinions. More quantity coupled with more quality would be nice.