Feb 012015
 
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Last week Google and Facebook announced their quarterly results with the search engine giant continuing its worrying slowing of advertising revenue. The respective changes of the two online services show how online advertising is changing.

While Google slows, Facebook is showing accelerating growth for its advertising, driven mainly by mobile users, illustrating the shift in internet usage from desktops to smartphones.

In its 2014 New Digital Consumer report, market research company Nielsen observed that US consumers in 2013 were spending more time accessing the internet on their smartphones than on personal computers; PC use had fallen seven percent to 27 hours a week while mobile use had surged 40% in 2013 to 34 hours.

Television still remained dominant with the combination of live and time shifted TV viewing making up 144 hours of the average American’s week, although it did fall slightly.

Nielsen-time-spent-per-device-2013

Those figures are a year out of date and there’s no doubt the numbers have accelerated since then. One of Tim Cook’s triumphs at Apple has been the release of the iPhone 6 and the larger form factors in the current generation of smartphones is a response to consumers’ demand to watch video on their devices.

Bigger Android, Windows and Apple smartphones will only seen even more people using their mobiles to watch video and surf the web.

Which puts Google’s predicament in sharp focus; we are definitely in the post-PC world yet their revenue still overwhelmingly comes in from desktop users while Facebook’s is increasingly coming from mobile consumers.

A strength Google has is that its revenues still dwarf the social media upstart’s – Google’s income is currently six times greater and its gross profit margin doubles that of Facebook’s – giving it plenty of leeway to change.

The question is where do the new revenues come from? Probably the biggest opportunity Google missed was in replacing the Yellow Pages franchises with their own local small business listings with Google Your Business (aka Google Place and Google Plus for Business) being lost in a confused and bureaucratic corporate strategy.

Compounding the problem for Google in the small business space is Apple’s entry and while Apple Maps is no contender against Google’s far superior product, an integration with Apple Pay would give Apple far more rich data to enhance listings with – not to mention more of an incentive for merchants to sign up.

With the changing web, Google are going to have to change as well. If advertising is going to remain the mainstay of their business then the company needs to find a way to capture smartphone users.

It could be worse however, a report from consulting firm Strategy Analytics estimates print media’s share of advertising revenue fell another seven percent this year. Time is running out for newspapers.

strategy-analytics-share-of-advertising-revenue

While print is ailing, the advertising battleground is mobile digital although TV still dwarfs the market. How this evolves in the next five years will define the next generation of media tycoons.

Jan 312015
 
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The one factor that saw Microsoft become the biggest computer software company was the rise of the personal computer, similarly the decline of the PC has seen Microsoft stagnate.

One of the companies that benefited from the forces that pushed Microsoft into stagnation was Google and now it appears they could be suffering the same fate.

Yesterday Google released their quarterly results which showed the rate of growth in online advertising is slowing, which is a worry for the company as internet marketing accounts for 90% of the firm’s income.

Like Microsoft, Google has to diversify. Whether it’s the internet of things, smartphones, apps, driverless cars or something else remains to be seen but the pressure is building. Should the shift to mobile or other advertising mediums accelerate, Google could be looking at a declining market and the same problems as Microsoft.

Jan 142015
 
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Links today have a bit of a social media theme with Twitter co-founder Ev Williams explaining his view that Instagram’s numbers don’t really matter to his business while researcher Danah Boyd explains the complexities of teenagers’ social media use.

Apple’s patents and why the tech industry is firing, not hiring, round out today’s stories.

Feel the width, not the quality

Twitter co-founder Ev Williams attracted attention last month with his comment that he couldn’t care about Instagram’s user numbers, in A Mile Wide, An Inch Deep he explains exactly what he meant at the time and why online companies need to focus more on content and value.

Apple gets patent, GoPro shares drop

One of the frustrations with following the modern tech industry is how patents are used to stifle innovation. How an Apple patent for something that seems obvious caused camera vendor GoPro’s shares to fall is a good example.

Why is the tech industry shedding jobs?

Despite the tech industry’s growth, the industry’s giants are shedding jobs. This Bloomberg article describes some of the struggles facing the tech industry’s old dinosaurs.

An old fogey’s view of teenagers’ social media use

Researcher Danah Boyd provides a rebuttal of the story about young peoples’ use of social media. “Teens’ use of social media is significantly shaped by race and class, geography and cultural background,” she says. Sometimes it’s necessary to state the obvious.

Dec 262014
 
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One of the ongoing tensions in the new media landscape is that between the demands of advertisers and content creators.

This isn’t a new thing as a 1959 interview between Mike Wallace and TV pioneer Rod Stering shows.

Sterling describes how pressures from networks and advertisers created often weird compromises along with a fair degree of self censorship among TV writers and producers.

Little that Sterling describes would surprise today’s online journalists, bloggers and social media influencers who find themselves subject to identical pressures today.

Sep 082014
 
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This post is the final of a series of four sponsored stories brought to you by Nuffnang.

Boring is the comment often used about business websites, however smart companies are using blogs to spice up their sites and boost marketing, customer retention and employee engagement.

A blog can make a company’s website more dynamic and a destination for visitors, it’s an opportunity for an organisation to demonstrate its depth of expertise and the qualification of its staff.

Best at this are the big global companies like GE, Cisco and IBM that have large pools of experts who can contribute to the company blog. These enterprise blogs are sprawling sites that cover multiple markets and industries which the companies operate across.

More than a marketing tool

For smaller tech companies, particularly Silicon Valley startups, their blogs have become vital marketing platforms where they often describe the company’s journey and new features being added.

Some companies, like Uber and Nest, use the company blog as their press channels with entries acting as media releases. This is particularly useful for smaller businesses without a PR agency or in house communications people.

At a more tactical level, blogs can be used as a weapon in a fight for marketshare. One of the toughest battles on the internet at the moment is going on between accounting software companies MYOB and Xero and their blogs are at the forefront of this fight.

In this battle MYOB are the incumbent with over a million users in the Australian business accounting market and a small army of Certified Consultants to help clients with using the software while Xero is the well funded cloud computing service that grew its Australian customer base by nearly 50% to 147,000 so far this year.

Small business thought leadership

So the battle is intense with both companies using their blogs to show their thought leadership in the small business space. Both of the blogs illustrate each company’s strengths and weaknesses.

MYOB’s blog is the longest standing and is more of a generalist overview of small business and accounting issues while Xero’s focuses on the new features being added to the product, both have fiercely passionate followers which shows in the comments fields of their blogs.

Blogs though need not be about pure marketing or advertising functions, in fact the best small business ones are those that just tell their customers what’s on. These are particularly good for the hospitality and retail industries.

One plus with business blogs is they help employees understand their business better, particularly when staff are invited to contribute.

Blogging isn’t just about lonely geeks or bored mums sitting in their spare rooms. A well thought out business blog can be a great tool for engaging existing customers, motivating staff and building new markets.

Jul 012014
 
Spreadsheets are a powerful but dangerous business tool

Journalists have had a tough time over the last twenty years and it’s about to get tougher.

Last July The Associated Press announced they will automate most of their business reporting. AP’s Business News Managing Editor, Lou Ferrara explained in a company blog how the service will pull information out of company announcements and format them into standard news reports.

instead of providing 300 stories manually, we can provide up to 4,400 automatically for companies throughout the United States each quarter

This isn’t the first time robots have replaced journalists, three years ago National Public Radio reported how algorighms were replacing sports reporters.

Ferrara admits AP has already automated much of its sports reporting;

Interestingly, we already have been automating a good chunk of AP’s sports agate report for several years. Data comes from STATS, the sports statistics company, and is automated and formatted into our systems for distribution. A majority of our agate is produced this way.

Reporting sports or financial results makes sense for computer programs; the reciting of facts within a flowing narrative is something basic – Manchester United led Arsenal 2-0  at half time, Exxon Mobil stock was up twenty cents in morning trading and the Japanese Yen was down three points at this afternoon’s close don’t take a super computer to write.

Cynics would say rewriting press releases, something many journalists are accused of doing, could be better done by a machine and increasingly this is exactly what happens.

The automation of commodity reporting isn’t just a threat to journeyman journalists though; any job, trade or profession that is based on regurgitating information already stored on a database can be processed the same way.

For lawyers, accountants and armies of form processing public servants the computers are already threatening jobs – like journalists things are about to get much worse in those fields.

It could well be that it’s managers who are the most vulnerable of all; when computers can monitor the workplace and prepare executive reports then there’s little reason for many middle management positions.

This is part of the reason why the middle classes are in trouble and the political forces this unleashes shouldn’t be underestimated.

Jun 052014
 
what is the future of journalism

“Globally the newspaper industry’s revenue decline will end in 2015″ declares PwC in their 2104 Global Media and Entertainment report released earlier this week.

While PwC thinks the decline for print – both in newspapers and magazines – is over, however there’s little if any growth on the horizon with the company forecasting 0.1% growth per annum for newspapers and 0.2% for magazines over the next four years.

The reason for the stabilisation in revenues is the move to paid apps and paywalls, which means advertising is less important to the print industry’s revenues.

Circulation revenue will almost match advertising revenue by 2018. In 2013, while circulation revenue rose globally after years of decline, advertising revenue continued to fall. Circulation’s share of total revenue will rise from 47% in 2013 to 49% by 2018, meaning consumers may soon become publishers’ biggest source of revenue.

PwC’s view is consistent with the advertising trends flagged by Mary Meeker in her State Of The Internet report last week and, if the forecasts are correct, it will show the magazine and newspaper industries are making the transition to a new business model.

One of the strange points in the PwC report is the talk of ‘Digital First’.

‘Digital-first’ is becoming the norm for newspaper publishers. For many years, news publishers’ digital output was led by their print products. But increasingly, titles will be reorganised as ‘digital-first’ operations, publishing content that works best on connected devices.

This is true, but newspaper managements have been proclaiming their ‘Digital First’ strategies for close to a decade; any media company that doesn’t put its digital channels first is doomed to extinction anyway.

Which is one of the important points of the PwC survey; it’s about the global industry and while that might be flat-lining, individual outlets will still fail. That’s something which concentrate the minds of those managing some of the more poorly run media empires.