Monthly Archives: June 2007

AOL News relaunched as blogs – is this the end of production teams?

Okay, I should get out more, but AOL has made a bold move – and it has consequences for the industry.

Unlike the Guardian’s faux blog design, AOL has adopted real life automated blogs. Given the ease of publishing, journalists can now write, sub and publish their copy – without little or no need for production staff.

Doug Richard, founder of Library House (and yes, a former panellist on Dragon’s Den) recently suggested that more publishers may go the way of blogs to reduce production overheads. The move would course have serioues consequences for everyone involved in the traditional news production process – staff including sub editors, designers, technical staff and so on.


See the new AOL News website.

Emap recruits Centaur Media’s digital publisher

Centaur’s digital publisher Stephen Brooks has joined Emap as digital director, lifestyle, Emap Communications.

Brand Republic (owned by Centaur peer Haymarket Publishing) suggests that the move is part of a recent drive to boost Emap’s digital ops – especially if the publisher is to meet its target of doubling digital revenues by the end of 2008.

It seems that things are moving a little faster in the digital department, at last. As per my recent post on print publisher’s God given right to survive online, Brand Republic referred to Emap chairman, Alun Cathcart’s previous comments that the company needs to speed up the execution of its strategy of adapting to audience consumption shifts from traditional to digital media platforms.

Stephen has left a comment to clarify that his position is digital director for EMAP Business, not Consumer. Note to self: triple check anything reported on Brand Republic…

Read the fuller piece. newsletter

Before we begin, can I just say that I’ve subscribed to the email newsletter for years.

But good god, it’s painful to read sometimes.

Why? Well, take a look at the latest newsletter, which deals with the ban of the Manhunt 2 video game by Rockstar.

Tackling the topic of video game censorship means it won’t be short of eyeballs, but I’m prepared to bet a bloodied ice hockey mask that less than 10 per cent of all recipients of the weekly newsletter read the whole newsletter.

At best, I’d say they read the opening paragraph, scan for keywords in the main body, then maybe, just maybe, they scroll to the final paragraph to read the last two paragraphs. But I doubt it.

Some thoughts:

Bone up on web copy basics

Insert sub headings, limit each paragraph to one idea or issue. Help users navigate around the article with signposting sub headings, images or pull quotes. As a last resort, bold up keywords throughout the piece – a bit messy, but at least my eyes have something to hold on to. *I can’t believe I’m wheeling this one out* but get familiar with Jakob Nielsen: e.g. around 16 per cent of web users read web copy word for word, while the rest skim or scan. I’d bet that statistic drops to single figures for readers of this newsletter.

Bite the big one and cut the word count

The text is way too long and no matter how good the text is, no one will read it. And if they do, I bet they’ll print it off and save it for the train journey home. Then they’ll decide it’s way too long. Or just plain unattractive to the eye.

Get another editor

I’m guessing the length of the piece has more to do with’s limited resources than anything else – in that I bet it’s been researched, written, edited and posted by the same person. A second pair of eyes would edit this down. And if there is a second pair of eyes, get another editor.

Don’t get me wrong – I read (or at least try to read) every gi newsletter I get. Loyalty dictates that I try to ignore the horrific formatting I’ve outlined above and the repetitive. laboured. hammering in. of each. point. again. and again. But I can’t.

I just don’t have the time to read really long and immersive articles…and I’m guesing its core audience – gaming execs – don’t either.

Please don’t take this the wrong way – I just think you could be so much better.

On a more positive note, (which favours a raw text email newsletter) reports that online games are grooming business leaders of the future.

Best Yahoo! coverage

Out of all the Yahoo! coverage of late, I really liked Tom Stevenson’s round up in the Telegraph. It gives the impression that Yahoo! has stood open mouthed while most of its competitors go around snapping up the NBT. Not sure I agree, but the comparision of revenues is astonishing.

As per the Telegraph’s noo meja aspirations, it’s provided a handy round up of blogosphere comment, which includes comments by Om Malik, Michael Arrington, Nick Denton and IBM’s ‘Turbo’ Todd Watson (?)

By the way, has anyone else noticed the deafening silence coming from Tom Coates’ blog since Semel’s departure. I thought he’d have been cartwheeling over the appointment of Jerry ‘not Steve Jobs’ Yang.

Superb example of social media marketing

This is old news to geeks-ville, but it’s incredible, so I’m going to blog it.

There have been some really inspiring social media marketing campaigns of late – but few threaten entire industries (in this case the traditional film distribution model).

I first heard about the Four Eyed Monsters campaign at Channel 4’s Wired & Ready social media event. James Fabricant, Head of Marketing and Content for MySpace UK & Ireland only happened to mentioned it as an aside from insight into its E4’s Skins campaign work with Holler digital.

Once visitors have immersed themselves in the indie film’s plot on the MySpace profile, they’re then encouraged to go to an official site and register their interest in seeing the film by entering the zip code of their local cinema.

Each vote / request is then represented by a small heart on a Google map app. Once a zip code has 100 requests (a large heart), the producers then approach local cinema owners to show the film.

Taking the guesswork out of film distribution, this is a no brainer for cinema owners who are handed guaranteed bums on seats for the film – with zero marketing on their part. The producers are also happy because it means their film is shown outside potentially cliquey indie cinema circles.

A truly remarkable tool for indie film workshops. Though, I do wonder how the big film distributors will react after being cut out as middle man? Will they make life difficult for cinema owners who choose to run these films? Or will they jump on the bandwagon for the release of their own riskier low budget films.
Might be worth keeping an eye on this one.
Take a look at the Four Eyed Monster MySpace profile.
Seeing as we’re on a film theme, I’ve just seen a trailer for a film called Ten. The voice over artist’s realing off of the stars has to be seen. As a colleague said, it shouldn’t be all that funny – but it is. Judge for yourself and watch the Ten trailer.

Print publishers don’t have a ‘god given right’ to survive online

Interesting coverage of the Cannes Advertising Festival by Mark Sweney of, in particular his notes on a talk by Professor Jeffrey Cole, director of the Center for the Digital Future at Microsoft.

I totally agree that publishers of mags and newspapers shouldn’t think they have a god given right. But I do think they have a prayer – as long as they get up to speed with their nearest online competitors asap.

If print publishers migrate all of the best bits of their popular mag, go on to tweak these features to exploit the web AND ensure they’re offering a similarly rewarding experience to the new generation of online only rivals, then all should be well.

A good example is The likes of MySpace are snapping at its heals, but its mix of UGC, user profiles, video content and quality journalism means it’s easily capable of being a major player online as well as off. But it’s also reaping the rewards of early web investment.

Anyone offering a strong vertical portal and ‘owning’ a niche area of interest I think has more than a fighting chance against the please-all dotcom behemoths. MySpace knows this too – which is why its site is cut up into niche interest ‘passion centres’. This also explains MTV and Yahoo’s recent decision to develop hobby/interest led microsites and focus efforts on ‘owning’ a space.

Print publishers, like, just need to hit the ground running asap. If not, shoestring upstarts (e.g. begin to scoop up everyone you’re not catering for on the web (e.g. Loaded).

Read Mark’s post from Cannes.

News Corp to swap MySpace for 25% of Yahoo!?

Incredible news, if true. But given that it’s in the News Corp’s the Times, there may be some truth to it.

Interesting that Murdoch was said to have downplayed MySpace’s popularity if he’s hoping this deal is going to happen. Perhaps it’s a calculated move – who knows.

Read more about the News Corp Yahoo! Times story.

Diesel Cult magazine – Pete Doherty caught in a guitar shop shocker

A few things to see on this site, including a video of Pete Doherty playing his next single by, we’re assured, a passing member of the public. Although initially confounding, persistence eventually pays off. All we are saying, is Give Pete a Chance.

See Pete Doherty perform an off the cuff gig on Diesel Cult magazine.

Murdoch admits Facebook is gaining ground on MySpace

Nice article in today’s Financial Times about the race between MySpace and Facebook.

According to John Gapper of the FT, Rupert Murdoch was candid with the Wall Street Journal when asked whether newspaper readers were now going to MySpace.

“I wish they were,” was his reply. “They’re all going to Facebook at the moment.”

It’s odd how Bebo now appears to be out of the picture despite recent Hitwise data which asserts that it’s neck and neck with MySpace in the UK. Facebook is, by comparison, way behind both MySpace and Bebo at present.

Could it be that the clean lines of Facebook sit well with the time-poor 30 or 40 somethings of the UK’s press? Expect even more David and Goliath column inches as more discover a less anarchic social networking site. Bless.