Today marks the official release of iOS 9, Apple’s newest operating system upgrade for its mobile devices. Along with it comes the much hyped mobile ad-blockers. TechCrunch tested three new content blockers for iOS 9 – 1Blocker, Blockr and Crystal. Popular desktop ad-blocker AdBlock Plus will also introduce an ad-blocking extension following iOS 9’s debut. So far, the ad industry appears to be somewhere between unconcerned and challenged, while most digital publishers seem to see this as a “frightening reckoning” and “potential nightmare.”
It is important to note that Apple is only adding support for content filtering extensions for Safari which must be downloaded and installed. Therefore they are not a system-wide feature that users can simply switch on to block all digital display ads with a simple swipe in settings. Instead, users seeking to block ads on their mobile browsers will have to install a third-party app, and jump through several steps in order to get it to work with Safari. While the process varies from app to app after downloading, generally users need to then enable content blocking extensions in Settings –> Safari –> Content Blockers, before returning to the app to customize the configurations. This process is akin to installing a third-party keyboard, and it can seem rather complicated for non-power users.
That being said, the well-documented, wide-ranging benefits that those ad-blocking extensions can bring to mobile browsing experience will likely motivate a significant portion of users to jump through hoops to set up the extensions. With the popularization of pop-ups, interstitials, and autoplay videos, digital display ads on websites have only grown aggressive over the past few years. Usage of the new content filters will only accelerate the ongoing shift towards native advertising and publishing directly to social networks and platforms that can help monetize content without the use of third-party ad networks. Moreover, as the extensions only work with Safari, all the ads served in apps, where users spends over 85% of their time on mobile devices, won’t be affected at all.
For more actionable suggestions on how brands can deal with the rise of ad-blockers, click here to read our in-depth Fast Forward analysis on this buzzing subject matter.
In response to Facebook’s “Instant Articles” initiative to natively host publishers’ content for quicker access, Google and Twitter are teaming up to accelerate the speed of mobile web. The joint effort, reportedly to be launched with a small group of publishers this fall, differs from Facebook’s Instant Articles or Apple’s upcoming News app, as it won’t host publishers’ content, but instead to show readers cached Web pages from publishers’ sites.
What Brands Should Do
With Facebook’s dominance of the mobile ad market, it makes perfect sense for Google and Twitter – its two biggest rivals – to work together. Google’s cached Web pages will reportedly display the original ads the publisher sold along with the content, which in a way, would make these ad units more appealing to advertisers and brands. For brands that are skeptical of giving up total control over content to the likes of Facebook’s and Apple’s platforms, this new initiative between Twitter and Google would likely be worth looking into.
A recent report from web traffic analytics firm Parse.ly says its data shows Facebook now accounts for more of the traffic to news sites than Google. Traditionally, organic search dominated as the top traffic referrer online, but social media has been quickly catching up in recent years and has now seemingly overtaken search as the leading traffic referrer source for good. As of July 2015. social media, of which Facebook is the largest, accounted for 43% of the traffic to news sites tracked by Parse.ly, whereas Google Search only accounted for just 38%.
What Brands Can Do
As consumers increasingly switch from desktop access to mobile devices, time spent in apps is starting to eclipse time spent on the mobile web, which could explain why more people are getting their news and content from social media instead of web search. This means brands need to make a conscious effort in translating their web content onto social media platforms, if they wish to keep up with the changing user behaviors.
One bonus effect of this shift is that content that does well on social media can get exponentially more attention than something that does well in search. Studies have shown that consumers are more likely to buy a product if it is recommended by someone they know.
Women’s magazine publisher Meredith Corp. has acquired Grocery Server, a digital ad platform that powers location-based ads for food and retail brands, aiming to make its digital assets more shoppable. The publisher first worked with Grocery Server in April 2014 to plug local ads into its AllRecipes site to let users shop for ingredients with real-time sales info from nearby grocery stores and retailers. After the acquisition, we expect more hyperlocal features like this to start popping up on other Meredith digital properties such as Better Homes and Gardens, Eating Well, and Martha Stewart to incorporate ecommerce into its digital publishing and add value for their readers, while also benefiting the CPG brands and retailers.
Read original story on: The Atlantic
Amazon has come up with a new way to distribute the revenue pool to self-publishing authors on its subscription-based e-book service Kindle Unlimited, as well as its Prime member’s Kindle Lending Library. After complaints from authors that the current scheme treats books of all lengths equally no matter how much time authors put into them, Amazon will go a step further than paying per page written.
It may seem like a crazy idea at first glance, but it is in fact in tune with the pricing scheme that most over-the-top subscription-based services employ, aligning consumption with compensation. Moreover, this per-page-read compensation model would offer Amazon and publishers a granular metric for measuring reader behaviors. This kind of digital-enabled “measurable intimacy” (which you can read more about in our 2015 Outlook) provides a great way for brands to connect with their audience, as well as getting nuanced feedbacks.
Last week, we reported on Facebook’s Instant Articles, the newest product in its relentless chase after digital publishers. Now officially launched, it serves as a mobile-only content initiative, designed to get partnered publishers to get their content hosted natively on Facebook’s servers so as to eliminate the long wait for in-app browser to open. Among the first batch of publishers signed on are prestigious news outlets such as The New York Times, The Atlantic, BBC News and BuzzFeed, all seemingly eager to try out the glossy, mobile-friendly new format and speed this new feature brings.
In related news, Facebook started to test its own in-app, in-house search engine earlier last week. Selected users have discovered a new feature that allows them to easily search and add links that are already shared on Facebook, directly to their posts and comments. Although not necessarily trying to take over Google’s business, this new development, combined with the launch of Instant Articles, all point to Facebook’s ambitious plan to turn its social network platform into a closed-off mobile ecosystem for digital content. In fact, Facebook is on track to pass Google in incremental ad dollars, according to a Morgan Stanley analyst.
If such trend continues, we might soon be seeing a version of The Internet, as presented by Facebook. Therefore, it is important for media owners and brands alike to at least to try out Facebook’s offerings first to see if its platform works for their specific purposes.
Update 5/15/2014: Smaller publications, including local news sources, will reportedly have an opportunity to try Instant Articles for themselves soon.
Read original story on: Re/code
Verizon, the second biggest telecom company in the States, has acquired mass media conglomerate AOL for a whopping $4.4 billon. Verizon is expecting the deal to be close by the end of summer, which will hopefully help with its “video and OTT strategy”.
AOL currently consists of two main business operations: the digital media properties that includes sites like Huffington Post and TechCrunch, and the ad tech platform that it has been rapidly developing in recent years. Given that AOL is already in talks with German media company Axel Springer to spin off its Huffington Post content unit, it is safe to conclude that AOL’s ad tech platform, especially video ad units, are what Verizon is really after.
With this acquisition, Verizon officially enters the media and ad tech sectors, which would give it a triple-screen opportunity to reach consumers across desktop, mobile, and television, helping the mobile network operator to tap into bountiful potential as the media market shifts towards digital content and targeted advertising.
Read original story on: The Verge
The New York Times just released an update to its iOS app, NYT Now, that fundamentally altered the prestigious publisher’s business model on the mobile platform. Instead of a subscription-based model priced at $7.99 per month for full digital access, the app is now retooled to be ad-supported, granting all interested readers—with or without subscription—access to an editorially curated selection of articles. In addition, the relaunch of the app is sponsored by Delta airline, with future brand sponsorships to come.
The choice between subscription-based model and ad-supported model has long been a dilemma for media owners to consider when it comes to entering the mobile space. Many prestigious content brands, such as HBO and ESPN, have gone with subscriptions so as to keep their offers consistent across platforms. Yet more and more content owners, especially digital publishers, are starting to realize that the old subscription-based model that worked in print doesn’t translate well in the mobile-first world.
The bottom line here is, the choice between the two revenue models is not so clear-cut. It takes careful evaluation of various factors for brands to figure out which one works for their mobile offerings.
Digital news publishers are swarming to develop branded apps for mobile users. But they might just be neglecting the truly important portal here—mobile web. According to a recent study from the Pew Research Center, mobile users tend to get their news from mobile websites in their browsers instead of apps. As mobile web browsing continues to outpace corresponding mobile apps for most news sites, news publishers need to take notice and put mobile optimization first.
As a recovering journalist, I have watched with consternation and dismay the battles newspapers and magazines are undergoing. It is a painful time for traditional news media, particularly print media. And with results from the National Newspaper Association, it just got worse: Newspaper ad revenue sank nearly $2 billion in the third quarter of 2008.
Nevertheless, I have reason to believe the paradigm shift that has been happening for several years is starting to take shape. There may be a light at the end of the tunnel for newspapers, magazines, and the advertisers who have always looked to these mediums to reach their audiences. Continue reading “Newspapers must hybrid-ize”