Tag Archives: FT.com

FT.com web strategy – assuming the site isn’t down

Ien Cheng, publisher and managing editor, reveals in today’s Guardian that publishers should act more like tech firms than publishers.
Not sure what that means when the FT.com site doesn’t load and returns a ‘Cannot find server’ in the browser (as of 10.35am this morning).

Blips aside, Cheng appears to be working wonders by focusing on three strands (or ‘prongs’ if you’re Jemima Kiss). These include new products, subscription models and internal production. It seems to be working – a 33 per cent rise in users from last year to 7.1 million uniques a month.

The report also details strong growth in online advertising (40 per cent – helped by highly targeted ads) and an 11 per cent growth in online subscriptions (over 10,000 users are signing up each week). Hats off to web agency Avenue A Razorfish?

The nod to new products suggests that the FT.com – like the Telegraph and, more recently the Daily Mirror – could benefit from an internal web development team.

He also shrugs off any threat from Google and their strength in the new, more open marketplace. But I’ve always believed that specialist publishers, including the ‘niche’ business audiences of the FT and WSJ, were relatively safe from the advertising giant. More so than the Mirror or the Sun.

Impressive stuff nonetheless.

Lucy Kellaway of the FT criticises National Trust global warming initiative

We don’t often get all ‘Daily Mail’ about an issue at contentcontent, but this week’s working life article by the FT’s Lucy Kellaway could be deemed downright irresponsible in some quarters.

Ms Kellaway’s comments about employers’ increasing intrusion into employees’ home lives is a worthy topic. But isn’t it a little low to question the National Trust’s initiative to combat global warming because a warmer climate ‘surely will encourage more tourists to the UK.’

A promising article which, alas, misfires at the end.

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UK Recession: a boost for price comparison websites?

Another day, another price comparison website goes up for sale.
Well, nearly. Credit checking firm Experian is said to be open to approaches as part of a review of PriceGrabber and its role in the business. It acquired Pricegrabber in 2005 for around £225m, before Experian was demerged from GUS plc, the owner of the also demerged Argos chain.
Forbes.com reports that a person close to the company said PriceGrabber is a strong division with growing profits and revenues and, therefore, Experian will either sell it at a good price or not at all.

The news comes at a time of increased activity in the price comparison market – not always for positive reasons. It looks like feast or famine for site owners, depending on when you got in and what sector you’re targeting.

The utilities comparison market, for example, is pretty much overcrowded. Daily Mail and General Trust revealed it was looking to close its SimplySwitch website in February 2008, 18 months after acquiring the business for £22 million. The Guardian put the move down to performance targets, after an unexpected fall in the energy price comparison market.

But it’s not all gloom and doom for financial and retail comparison sites. Last year Tesco joined forces with Royal Bank of Scotland to launch a joint venture called TescoCompare.com. FT.com reported that Yahoo was reviewing its Kelkoo comparison site in October 2007, three years after paying $575 million for it.

Expect more news from this sector soon wethinks.
PriceGrabber is in the news for another reason today – vnunet.com quotes PriceGrabber’s Consumer Behaviour Report and how the HD DVD ‘format war’ is holding back DVD sales while people wait for a winner. Is it true that Toshiba has finally given up the ghost? What fate now awaits the millions of Xbox 360 owners?

“Drama queen” Facebook and deleting your profile

Will Facebook ever let its users delete all traces of their online existence in one easy step, asks tech blog gadgetell.com.

The debate about old blogs, posts and social network profiles coming back to haunt users shows no sign of slowing. It’s no doubt a reaction to the growing concern by now mature job seekers who are worrying that their job applications are being rejected by HR execs because of an anti-Starbucks blog post dating back to a time when Marylin Manson was edgy.

If you don’t know why the Aleksey Vayner story should be read by everyone with a pithy blog or kerazy social network profile, then read this letter in the FT.

Read more gagdetell.com’s post about permanently deleting Facebook profiles.

Watch a video of how to disable Facebook applications (thanks to Jeremiah Owyang of Forrester for the link).

FT’s David Bowen: social networks and Burmese unrest.

Wikipedia was just as powerful a distribution tool as social networks and blogs for recent Burma buzz, and amazingly, out-scooped many sites, says Bowen.

Surprisingly, searches on YouTube yielded very little (aside from a TV ad for Halo 3 and something called ‘Gayfight!’)

Read David Bowen’s full post on ‘How social networks contribute to regime change‘.

Yahoo to sell Kelkoo – why?

The FT reports that Yahoo is looking at the disposal (in part / fully?) of its European shopping comparison site Kelkoo. Paying $575 million for the site in 2004, the company is looking to give the site more independence.

Nothing to do with the fact that a new comparison website seems to be launching every week, be it for insurance, utilities or retail. And when someone like Tesco even decides to join the party, it’s probably time to exit at the top of your game. TescoCompare.com is a JV between Tesco and Royal Bank of Scotland, the supermarket’s financial services products partner.

Ditch your SEO agency: update your content

It’s a mantra we always repeat to clients – content is pretty much key when it comes to improving your search engine rankings. I won’t go into details here (there are stacks of ‘how to’ articles posted elsewhere), but as long as your site has been developed to best practice standards, your key word density is good, your titles and headings are descriptive and you update on a regular basis, your site should rise up the ranks.

I mention this after finding that contentcontent is the top search result on Google for ‘marks and spencers martha lane fox‘. Not the Telegraph, not the Guardian, not even the FT – contentcontent is the top result. Shame it’s one of our weaker posts

How will Murdoch exploit digital marketing?

Interesting piece from iMedia Connection today, mainly for the commentary on Murdoch’s purchase of MySpace and how he intends to queeze revenues out of it.

Interesting to read about the focus on online ads, but what about its plans for non-ad revenues?

Can fears about Google’s ‘total information’ approach be solved by a clear log in request?

Far be it from Google to court controversy, but it appears that CEO Eric Schmidt has captured the imagine of MSM (mainstream media) with his thoughts on how one of the world’s best known brands will predict our every need and want with products like iGoogle.

Hell, even the Independent got all tabloid with a front page splash on how ‘Google is watching you’.

“The goal is to enable Google users to be able to ask the question such as ‘What shall I do tomorrow?’ and ‘What job shall I take?'” says Eric.

Despite the implications, I’m still surprised at the widespread reaction to this story. The front cover of the Indy, sure, but second lead story on the cover of the Financial Times? Please.

Has everyone forgotten this very same debate back when MSM first caught on to the story of how ad networks used cookies to personalise browsing experiences?

That said, the advice back then was simple – don’t accept cookies. Although everyone’s a bit hazy on how Google’s new wotsit works, it looks like user sessions will be tracked and recorded to improve a user’s experience – all without the need for cookies.

You know what? I don’t care. In fact, I think it’s a Good Thing.

It matters not a jot to me if Google is furiously scurrying its duck legs under water to make my life easier. If I can spend less time wading through poorly written websites, then bring it on.

This is nothing new, Yahoo has offered a personalised ‘AI’ like service on its music services for years. Log in, play music, rate the tracks as you go along and soon, you’ll have your own video jukebox tailored to your tastes.

But – and it’s a big but – Yahoo makes a point of asking you to log in to optimise the service. Would we have an iGoogle type reaction to the Yahoo service if it suddenly started predicting my music tastes without me asking it to? Call me naive but I want the peace of mind that I’m logging in before my details are recorded and tracked.

There’s a word missing from all the stories I’ve read in the MSM’s stories about iGoogle – transparency. Clearly tell users what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. If it’s for the good of the advertiser AND the user then say so. Hell, even go so far as making a big deal of the service on the log in page and explain how it’ll improve my browsing experience. Watch me sign up!

Empower the user to improve their session and they’ll love you for it, even if it does comes at the cost of being served super targeted ads for ipods and Lynx deodorant.

So, well done to Google on the PR assault – just back it up with a dedicated and transparent set of terms and conditions on user’s log in pages.

Quote by David Bowen, FT.com

Reading this, it appears that we’re all so time poor that we need instant opinion in either black or white – hence the move towards ‘shock’ journalism/comment:

We live in a world of many shades of grey, yet the way to get yourself
heard (and respected) is to be black and white about everything. The more
opinionated the commentator, or magazine or newspaper, the better it is likely
to do, which explains the shift from old-fashioned reporters and feature writers
to ‘hard-hitting’ columnists. Blogging is another expression of it. You don’t
have to do anything dull like interviewing people, checking facts, then checking
facts again – you just write what you like.