2011 Flashback @ Stuff.co.nz


Google News redesign – Notes from NiemenLabs

NiemenLab covers the recent tweaks to Google News’s UI and personalisation  features with the underlying rationale for those changes, as explained by Andre Rohe, the lead engineer behind the product.

I’ve summarised the points below:

  • New design meant to strike balance between balance and serendipity
    • Top Stories
    • Customised stories (visit the site and scroll down to see how they manage this personalisation process)
    • Locally relevant stories
    • Spotlight items
    • Most shared
    • Other content
  • The new “news” buzzwords from Google: 

…many of the new tweaks are aimed at writing into the service a happy medium within the polar aspects of news consumption: something between total personalization and total universality; between breadth and depth; between pre-existing interests and discovery; between want to know and need to know; between expectation and serendipity.

  • UI Change
    • Top Story now is ‘expanded’ ie visually contextualised with links and multmedia offerings
    • Expanded view for “Top Story” emphasizes on the diversity of coverage
    • Relevant Wikipedia links are also now included – Google thinks Wikipedia can sometimes offer more context/background to a story
  • Personalisation
    • Explicit – Users tell Google what they want
    • Implicit – Google uses search behaviour and user’s behaviour from other Google products to display a “News for You” section
    • Investigate ways to combine explicit & implicit – Ie. When Google surfaces a story that the user had implicit interest in, it also allows the opportunity for the user to convert it into an “explicit” interest
  • Mobile
    • “News Near You” – From last year, where Google uses geo-location data to provide you a customised news feed
    • This year, released a Google News version for low end phones.

You can visit Google News here.

Effectiveness of online video vs TV advertising

Social media valuations: How much are they worth vs how much they’re currently earning?

Interesting visualisation from G+ (found via Mashable).

I guess Facebook isn’t that overvalued when you compare its valuation to some of these other properties around.


Online video beats TV when it comes to ads

This MediaLab & YuMe study using facial tracking algorithms and biometric modeling has found that when comparing online video ads to TV ads:

  • Online video ads get 18.% more viewer attention vs TV
  • When transitioning from programme content to ads, TV viewers dropped off 3x faster than online viewers
  • DVRs allow users to fast forward ads and they do exactly just that.
  • When fast forwarding, TV viewers are forced to focus on the ad (so they can stop on resumption of content) but their subsequent recall rates are low
  • TV and Online viewers are faced with many distractions, mainly from smartphones. About half of the viewers had a 2nd active screen while viewing conten and when ads played, 62% of TV viewers changed their attention elsewhere compared to only 45% for online viewers.

“Compared to TV, online video is measurably better at delivering ads that are impossible to skip technologically and impractical to skip behaviorally.”

Eli Pariser on the perils of a fully ‘personalised’ information world

The themes covered by Eli Pariser at TED Talks 2011 are undeniably fascinating and interesting.

As Google, Facebook and others try to perfect the notion of a fully customised, personalised and ‘relevant’ experience for the user, have we as society stopped to question if this is in fact a good thing?

We know from our own research that while news readers love the idea of having content personalisation tools at their fingertips, they do not want that to be the only news that they read.


For fear of missing out, of course.

Just because I want to read something relevant doesn’t mean I don’t want to read something important also.

In terms of whether the future of democracy is threatened by this advanced, scientific and automated personalisation of information delivery… I don’t think so.

That’s what editors and journalists are for. Editors will never let their ability to curate and present news be taken over by a computer. And that’s why news media will always exist.

The Future of News: All you need to know in one site

I’m loving this new initiative launched by NiemenLabs.

When you’re in news media you keep tabs on new trends and developments every day as you try to stay ahead of the curve in one of the most competitive and changing landscapes in this current era.

As an organisation, NiemenLabs has definitely done well to highlight the challenges of not only the large, mainstream media organisations, but also the smaller, community or non-profit news operations.

Now with their newly launched Encyclo, they’ve create a place where they can house all historical and ongoing knowledge about news media organisations in an encyclopedic format; their history and current trajectories, as well as how they’re affecting or being affected by change in the media landscape today.

But our main site emphasizes new developments and the latest news. We think there’s great value in a resource that steps back a bit from the daily updates and focuses on background and context. What is it about Voice of San Diego that people find interesting? How has The New York Times been innovating? What model is Politico trying to achieve? Those kinds of questions are why we decided to build Encyclo — a resource on the most important organizations and issues in journalism’s evolution.

Suffice to say that if you’re in news media and you aren’t following NiemenLabs, then you’re probably a lot further behind than everyone else who does.

1/3 of people use mobile apps before getting out of bed

An Ericsson report found that people today are so connected that 35% of them use their mobile phone apps first thing in the morning, before they even get out of bed.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, the time of the day with the lowest smartphone usage is during dinner, at 26%; which still means that at least 1 in 5 people will be trying to multitask with a phone in one hand and their cutlery in the other.

Social networking apps are the most used, with 22% logging on during the morning and at least 20% making one final check on their friends before they go to bed.

Google ThinkInsights: Resource for marketers

Google has just launched ThinkInsights, a website that’s devoted to being a resource for marketers.

There is a massive amount of data and insights contained in there, categorised by industry, demographics and marketing objective.

The idea, really, is to help marketers understand how online or digital channels outperform or complement other channels in the media mix.

There is a bias to search where relevant, of course – this IS a Google initiative after all – but on the whole I think Google should be commended for this excellent resource!

For small business marketers which often lack the finances or resources of a research team, this is probably somewhat of a gold mine. Heck, even businesses WITH research teams can potentiall benefit off the material available here.

When the lines blur: What convergence really means to PepsiCo and how we can all learn from them

In the space of 2 weeks, PepsiCo (USA) has integrated social media sharing with vending machines (gift your friend drink via the machine) and social media tagging with television commercials.

Innovative thoughts, designed to enhance engagement and social experiences of their customers with their products as well as their ads. The thing I love about this is all that sharing and tagging will bring about a host of new data points and data types; How many people saw the TVC? How many people saw and interacted with the TVC? Who buys their Pepsi from which vending machine, at what times? Who’re their friends?

Wouldn’t have expected anything less given that Shiv Singh has been leading the charge as PepsiCo’s Head of Digital (he was formerly VP and Global Social Media Lead at Razorfish).

He talks about these 2 campaigns here and why you’ll see more of this coming from PepsiCo. He’s a believer that the integration and convergence of social and traditional advertising is very much on the horizon and experimentation is key. This puts him and PepsiCo ahead of the curve.

In his post he lists 6 thought starters that he believes will influence you, as a marketer, creative or media planner, over the next decade. Here’s a snapshot of some of them, which are my favourites:

1. Television advertising is dead as television advertising. 

The fundamentals of television advertising are changing dramatically. No more can you think about it in isolation. Rather your television advertisement is the trailer for deeper online engagement … Creatives need to think about TV through a different lens – through the lens of it being one touchpoint in a broader consumer engagement strategy. Never start with a TV campaign.

The TV screen is no longer an ‘unconnected’ device that exists in isolation of other devices (like your PC). Mr Singh makes this point also and you, as a marketer/creative/media planner should be well aware of this.

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