Monthly Archives: October 2007

MediaGuardian relaunches – nice

The MediaGuardian has finally relaunched its site – and they’ve still left off links to ‘discuss this story’ or ‘comments’.

Users still have to navigate to a ‘commenty’ bit of the website – like PDA (guess) – and hope that a columnist’s provided some pithy comment in a blog with comment facilities.

And another thing – a classic technology for technology’s sake story on today’s MediaGuardian. Replace Google Maps with ‘an AtoZ’ and you get the point.

Harper Collins creates ‘talent network’ with social site Authonomy

Not sure how sites like ABCtales will take this, but publisher Harper Collins UK is launching a community website for budding authors called Authonomy.

The new social networking site launches in 2008 and aims to create a hot bed of new talent with popular authors getting their work considered for publication.

Internal user recommendations and votes will play a role in recognising new talent, but we’re assuming web traffic to author profiles will also be thrown into the mix.

Victoria Barnsley chief executive of HarperCollins told Brand Republic that the site will help authors get support and feedback from a large audience – in addition to the usual praise from family, book group or wide circle of friends.

Nice idea this. But we’ll leave you with four questions:

1) How will new authors take to the platform? Sure, there’ll be an initial flurry of profile creations and manuscript uploads, but how will authors react when the big bad multinational publisher only picks the top one per cent of all manuscripts uploaded (if that)?

2) How’s this going to make money? Charging an admission / subscription fee would be like a one of those dodgy modelling agencies which charges wannabees a fee to get on their books, only to never, ever get an assignment. No, ads are the way forward, especially personalised ads. So can we expect to see an ad for an Andy McNobb novel whenever we visit a profile which mentions ‘war’, ‘soldier’ or ‘pot boiler’?

3) How soon will it be before music publishers or film distributors set up something similar (if not already?). Once partnerships between publishers and existing social networks like MySpace take off, how long will it before they set up their own social network or ‘talent’ network? There’s huge potential for long tail social networks, but music, literature and film are obvious no brainers when it comes to uploading media to the web.

4) What’s happening with the ‘1999.com’ look Harper Collins UK website? Didn’t the publisher appoint a web agency to revamp it? Like, last year?

MediaGuardian changes PDA digital content blog after a week

We notice Mediaguardian has changed the name of its PDA blog to ‘Digital Content’ in the site’s navigation and URL, only days after its launch. Why? Anything to do with our blog post about the odd choice of ‘PDA’ only the other day? Anything to do with users not knowing what on earth ‘PDA’ stands for in this context? What does the blog’s PDA stand for? Please tell us.

Dennis Publishing appoints Viz and Inside Poker man to monkeymag.co.uk

Dennis Publishing has appointed Richard Downey, publishing director of Viz and Inside Poker, to lead web only magazine monekymag.co.uk, after former Emap strategy director James Mallinson left following a company restructure.

Read more on Mad.co.uk

BabyCentre valued at over £500m

Gadzooks. We’ve always rated BabyCentre, but is it really worth over $500 million?
Despite being owned by Johnson & Johnson, we’ve always appreciated its no-nonsense and hand-holding approach, particularly its personalised email newsletter, which provides practical (and advertorial free) advice on pregnancy and a baby’s development week by week.
A reader on paidContent’s coverage of the valuation wasn’t too positive about the valuation, and we share his surprise at the price tag. But it’s a great website (the UK site that is) and a genuinely valuable one at that.

News Group Newspapers: digital agency review

NGN is reviewing its digital agency arrangements for its tabloids, says Brand Republic.

Interesting news, but this page on Haymarket’s marketing portal has a few other things worth noting.

One: the mid page ad for Getty Images. Spooky. Nothing happens, but the guy pictured is mesmerising with his (engineered) bug eyes and slight movement / shifting on his feet. We clicked on it and went through to the site to see what the bug eyed guy was all about. Clicking an ad is a first for us in months…

Two: breaking exclusives or brave marketing ploy? At the bottom of the story, the line goes: ‘For the full story see next week’s edition of Marketing.’ Next week’s? Blimey – either it’s public domain (in which case, Marketing’s competitors will pick up on it) or someone’s on the BR editorial team has slipped up (unlikely). An interesting approach either way. Wonder how well it works?

Editorial posts off-shored to India – time to panic?

The off-shoring of call centre, accounting and admin operations are the norm in Britain’s modern economy, but we nearly dropped our cup of Twinnings when we heard that AOL is considering ‘right-sizing’ it’s operations and moving a number of editorial support roles to India. According to paidContent, sub-editor and HTML roles are specifically being affected.

Off-shoring has always been a threat for any operational staff, but hasn’t there always been an assumption that editorial roles were in some way ‘safe’? Why? Because of the requirement for staff to have a full grasp of their readers’ culture? The assumption that a writer is required to have English as their first language and (mistakenly) assuming that there are very few of these skills in India?

Web publishers are probably watching the outcome of this operational shift very closely. As are ad sales teams no doubt…