The top ten posts of 2009 from These Digital Times

Here are the top ten posts of 2009 from These Digital Times. Twitter and social media dominate – not at all surprising for a blog in this area.

So what does the traffic tell us?

  1. The two blog posts about Twitter in the top ten make up just under 10 per cent of the entire year’s traffic.
  2. The top five posts represent just over 25 per cent of the entire year’s traffic while
  3. the top ten posts represent 40 per cent of the entire year’s traffic.
  4. All but ten of the 238 posts on this blog were looked at during 2009 although
  5. the least popular 20 posts only managed 30 views in all, the bottom nine posts only one view each.
  6. Three of the posts (if you include “About John Welsh”) date back to 2008, hammering home the point that people’s use of the web is blind to date but keen on relevance.
  7. Only two of the posts predate the moment when These Digital Times found its voice providing lists for those acquiring skills in social media, and even one of those (“What should a well design website look like”) can be seen as a list.
  8. Only one post (Tennis player Andy Murray’s Twitter goes dead!”) dates back to a time when I just used this blog to comment on what else was around. Little surprise that it is a famous tennis player’s name that keeps this post there.
  9. Look how high up “About John Welsh” is in the list. It reminds you not to neglect an often overlooked element of a blog.

So the traffic follows the classic Pareto Distribution, a phrase used in economics to describe the typical distribution of wealth. This suggests that the wealthiest person in any town or country is likely to be twice as wealthy as the second most wealthy person who, in turn, is likely to be twice as wealthy as the third most wealthy person and so on. Such distribution, plotted on a graph, is a steep curve away from the vertical axis then continuing almost parallel to the horizontal.

It is a distribution often seen in social media and digital. The activity of the most active member of any community, for example, is likely to be twice as much as the next most active and so on. And think also about something like Amazon where the most popular book is twice as popular as the second and so on.

I’m rather chuffed that These Digital Times follows this pattern.

Posted in Blogs, RSS feeds, Social media, Twitter | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A strategy for These Digital Times

First some apologies.

An apology to that colleague who recently said he had signed up to my blog. I did not have the heart to say that it had ground to a halt.

Another apology to those reading Jeremy Porter‘s list of “91 Journalism Blogs and Websites You Will Love” who have clicked through to These Digital Times, as recommended, only to find the blog so out of date.

And an apology to me for being tough on myself, first, for the months of work I put into this blog and, second, for the months of angst I gave myself when I didn’t.

Let me give you some background to see if it can help you. And if not you, help me to restart my efforts.

Early Days

The original masthead for These Digital Times - from launch July 2008 to April 2009

It was a casual conversation with another colleague at his leaving party that gave this blog a voice. He was going to have some time on his hands. I suggested he use the opportunity to get up to speed with social media. My email to him, listing some ideas, became “Six steps to get started in social media”. And a blog that rambled on about anything and everything for the seven months up to that point suddenly acquired a voice. These Digital Times, and the experience I gained through it, was a way to help my colleagues (pictured either side of me in the masthead) to acquire the knowledge and perhaps the skills necessary for new media. And the more I helped my colleagues in traditional media to understand new media, so These Digital Times became useful to all those grappling with similar issues.

As soon as I had established these two goals (OK, I know you are supposed to do that BEFORE you start a blog), I then worked out very quickly my strategies to deliver that goal – a highly optimised headline, an often abstract illustration from Flickr’s Creative Commons and a list. I then backed it up with my recently activated social media activity on Twitter and Linkedin. The more I learned in public, revealing all faults and blemishes, the more the traffic came. The more counterintuitive I could be, the more people came back regularly.

I reached a peak of what WordPress calls over 700 “views” in one day in February with such classics as “Six types of Tweets if you Tweet every day” (1970 views since posting in January),  “A list of 10 social media habits I am stopping immediately” (808 views in February 2009 with 343 of them in one day alone) or “A list of eight answers to the most commonly used excuses for not using the web” (18 views yesterday SIX months after it first appeared). Posts bookmarked on StumbleUpon had the longest shelf life  –  75% of my traffic or thereabouts, comes from StumbleUpon these days. Indeed the power of the bookmarker is so long-lasting that it makes Tweeting out a link to a blog post seem a short-term gain.

For the truth is that a traditional journalist like me still finds it astonishing that the web has no concept of breaking news or shelf-life. If people are interested in a subject, and they appear to do so on my blog, then they will find this stuff whenever they wish –  days, weeks or months after its appearance. (Only last week, someone kindly Tweeted out a link to one of my blog posts nine months after I had posted it and only this morning someone else Tweeted out a link to a 14 month old blog post.) And if the content helps people to acquire new skills, then there will always be those who know less than you, even if you once knew less than them. I call this phenomena the Knowledge-Time Continuum.

What came next?

The next masthead - from April 2009 to December 2009

So what happened next? Well first was my ability to extend my network, discovering and, in the process, learning from social media and new media experts. The overlay of practical experience  (actually writing the blog, commenting on others, putting in links) with the knowledge and wisdom generated by so many people made me a fast learner. It changed not only how I thought, literally rewiring my brain, but also what I looked like. The transformation was such it brought about the first change in masthead for this blog – see “On being John Welsh – why you need to change your social media identity to remain authentic”. Indeed I now look at the masthead for These Digital Times from that period (above)  and I see something that I had never seen in myself before. The photo (taken by Hollis Thomases in San Francisco) and the art work (by Claudia Moeller) suggests someone pretty much at ease in the world of social media.

From a personal perspective, the masthead was spot on – I had acquired skills and moved on from those early days in social media. But from a professional perspective, the masthead had already become out of date. My job is much wider than just social media. Once I had acquired some of the skills of social media, it was time to assimilate those learnings, assessing social media merely as one of several types of strategies available to achieve digital goals. Social media was certainly not a goal in itself. My learning in public came to an end and silence ensued.

And now?

The new masthead for These Digital Times

If lists about social media activity can be of use to so many people, it also hammers home the interest in the subject by so many companies concerned to catch up. How much more useful I might be if I can find a way to discuss other digital activities within a company like United Business Media. I felt relaxed to learn about social media in public without divulging anything sensitive about the business. Can I feel as comfortable discussing data, SEO and monitoring?

Let’s see.

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Guest post: how cult YouTube directors can interest a young demographic in the issue of climate change

Who better to write this blog post on Blog Action Day 2009 than my sister Cheryl Campbell?

Cheryl is the executive director of tve, a charity that has been making films and documentaries about the environment for 25 years. Here she writes of her sons’ fascination for the cult YouTube videos of Eddsworld and Ted Crusty which  inspired her to work with the very same directors inviting them to give their take on climate change. What better way to appeal to a youngYouTube generation than to work with the stars of the medium.

I like the subject of this post written for this blog on this day of all days.

Blog Action Day 2009 focuses on climate change. These Digital Times is a blog dedicated to observing and supporting all our journeys from traditional to digital media. tve, a traditional maker of films about climate change,  launches something completely different using the tools of new media to get its message across. Cheryl’s post neatly brings all these elements together.

Read what she has to say. Watch the videos.  And send a message to world leaders about climate change.

Eighteen months ago I asked my young son to show me on YouTube what it was that (with all parental filters in place, of course!) was keeping him and his mates so fascinated, what it was that, when they got together as a group, made the computer more interesting than television or the XBOX.

Last night, as a result of that fascinating tour of YouTube channels, tve launched A Million Views on Copenhagen, a series of short, quirky irreverent climate change videos produced by  – and for – the YouTube generation.

tve, which is a UK based charity, has been making films and documentaries about the key environment and development challenges of our time for 25 years. Last year our films reached at least 300 million homes via global television broadcast and many more viewers via broadcasts on nearly 90 national and regional television channels. As you would expect, we are busy making films both long and short in the lead up to the crucial UN conference on climate change in Copenhagen in December.

But how to connect with that younger “hard to reach” audience? Some of these cult YouTube producers have vast followings of on-line fans, including Eddsworld, Ted Crusty and Custard Productions. We decided to invite them to produce a series for us, to give us their individual takes on climate change in the run up to the conference in Copenhagen in December. They’re joined by Alisha Tuladhar, a 16 year old schoolgirl from Nepal, and Mike-Steve Adeleye, an award-winning Namibian animator.

And we’ve been delighted with the results. Their films are exciting, innovative and engaging: a polar bear falling from the sky, plastic trees and a Lego campaigner against carbon tax are just some of the ways these members of the YouTube generation deliver their takes on climate change. It has been great to work with all the filmmakers: Edd Gould and Tom Ridgewell of Eddsworld, Mike Tapscott (Ted Crusty), Keshen Matus of Custard Productions, Mike-Steve Adeleye and Alisha Tuladhar. We thank them for sharing their creativity with us.

And so far, from the comments mounting up on our YouTube channel, it looks as we are achieving what we as a charity set out to do – inspiring change – with plenty of entertainment mixed in. “That’s it! I’m plugging out my particle accelerator!” “Woot! Another hilarious eddsworld movie and this time it has a meaning” “haha loved it it made the message bout global warming clear in a funny way” “I better go turn off a light switch now” – let’s keep those comments coming!

tve is not a campaigning organisation. But we often have most impact where we work closely with an organisation who knows how to take the interest and awareness we generate with viewers (be that through television or online) and turn it into action. In this our 25th year we’ve been delighted to partner with one of our founders, WWF, to give viewers of the series  that opportunity  ahead of Copenhagen. Viewers will be invited to Vote Earth and send a message to world leaders by clicking here and joining the call for a global deal on climate change at Copenhagen.

We’re hoping to attract a million views to the series by December so please do click through to tve on YouTube , watch the films. And finally, none of this would have been possible without the support of the Artemis Charitable Foundation. I am hugely grateful to the Foundation for enabling us to reach new audiences with such an exciting and cutting edge series.

Other UBM colleagues who have written for Blog Action Day 2009 are Anthony Hildebrand, Brian Sims, Ron Alallouf, Phil Clark, Grahame Morrison, Rob Enslin and Ed Sexton.

blog action day 2009

Here is a link to my contribution to Blog Action Day 2008.

Posted in Blogs, New Media, Social media, UBM, Video | Tagged , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Shaping your digital business for 2010

smileys-caption

What struck me most about the AOP’s forum was the gentle patter of realism.

Similar digital publishing seminars and conferences in the past have often boasted what might best be described as “digital extremists” who argue that traditional media is doomed and digital business should be built from scratch. At this event, speakers from the FT.com, Deloitte, WAN-IFRA and Auto Trader focused on the challenges for any traditional media company trying to increase the percentage of its digital business. But they also argued that this current, hybrid state was not just inevitable but appropriate.

The best parallel came from Deloitte’s Howard Davies. He pointed out that a hybrid car like the Toyota Prius was absolutely essential until cheaper rechargeable batteries or recharging points became widely available. He then argued that traditional media similarly had to “run a mixture of models for a while” because “the digital motorway still did not run everywhere in the UK” and its take-up was slowing.

I’ve copied my Twitters (and expanded some of those that are less than comprehensible!) from the event below.

FT.com’s Head of Product Management Mary Beth Christie

  • All attendees to the forum were invited to draw smiley faces on a flipchart – FT realised its employees had as diverse views of the web as the variety of smiley faces drawn by the attendees of the forum.
  • FT’s solution to the conflicting demands of journalists, protective of the value of their content, and management focused on revenue was pay wall for each user after 10 free stories a month.
  • FT’s advice: make all those impacted by a launch (journalists, sales or operations) make the time to find out about a new launch. No one (CEO to reporter/sales exec) is too busy. Or don’t complain after launch!
  • More expensive to make a traditional business digital than from new – like rewiring an old house than building new.

Deloitte’s Media Partner Howard Davies

  • Don’t just push yourself into an exclusive digital space because everyone else appears to be there; the boundary between traditional and digital media is an area not a wall.
  • “The digital motorway does not go everywhere.” In fact the numbers for digital conversion are slowing leaving the percentage of those using traditional media at a considerable number remains substantial (only 84% on mobile, 76% have a PC and only 62% are on broadband).
  • Just as the electric hybrid car, the Prius was produced because it was just too early for pure electric cars, so media will continue to run both traditional and digital media for a while.
  • Good leaders see digital’s frequent failures as part of the learning process.
  • Take some breaks from your digital journey.
  • Few publishers value the Long Tail any more (a reference to Chris Anderson’s book which argues that the web allows retailers to sell a large number of unique items, each in relatively small quantities), claims Davies, since who has resources to cater for the visitor who comes once a month.
  • Digital forces not just a change of behaviour but also culture. And you cannot change culture, you can only build it.
  • Why resistance to digital? Lack of vision, goal, structure, support, communication, information and involvement lead to a climate of fear.
  • Most problems with change management occur because people are expected to implement without explanation and adopt without support.

WAN-IFRA’s Dr Dietmar Schantin

  • Digital forces a change to a company’s culture, not just behaviour. Yet you cannot change culture only build it.
  • Why resistance to digital? Lack of vision, goal, structure, support, communication, information and involvement from team leaders create a climate of fear.
  • Most problems with change management occur because people are expected to implement without explanation and adopt without support.

Trader Media Group’s Digital Publishing Director, Edwin Ulak

  • Historically, the Trade Media Group set up its digital business as a national one to compete with its existing 13 print businesses.
  • When the company’s digital revenue overtook print revenue there were only 250 employed on digital and 3500 still on print.
  • Incentivise and motivate sales team not just on revenue but also profitable growth.

Runcat Consulting’s Tom Turcan

  • Don’t underestimate the value of a good party to help relieve stress during a period of change.

Here is the AOP’s own report on the forum.

Posted in Disintermediation, New Media, Newspaper business | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Guest post: recombu shows how even affiliate sites are now competing with traditional media

recombu homepagePeter Moore’s guest post does two things: first, he shows how far affiliate marketing companies are prepared to change their business models to maintain their paid search rankings and, second, he drums home the argument that it is content, and quality content to be specific, that is the best way to survive the judgement of Google’s Quality Score.

It seems like a pretty harmless ambition until, as Peter argues, you realise that such ingredients are yet more competition for traditional media hoping to make a go of it online.

Peter’s own blog is “My Digital Notebook“.

At the start of last month, a new website called recombu was launched. It’s a publication that deserves some attention. 

Let’s look at the facts
Recombu is a commercial site that is centred on a tight niche: mobile phones. There are mobile phone reviews, comparison tables and there are links to the latest mobile phone deals. The site also features news articles – by my reckoning there are about 50 of them so far – on everything imaginable to do with mobile phones.

You can get RSS updates of these latest articles, become a fan on Facebook and follow them on Twitter.

The name ‘recombu’ is an amalgam of the words ‘recommend’, ‘compare’ and ‘buy’. Andrew Lim, who was formerly the mobile phones editor at CNET, has been appointed recombu’s editorial director and he has added various other notable journalists to the pack, including Susi Weaser – the former ‘editrix’ of Shiny Shiny.

A new business model
Nothing out of the ordinary so far, but when you dig into recombu’s business model, then things get a little more interesting. Recombu has been built by UK Web Media, one of the UK’s leading affiliate marketing companies. Jamie Harwood, UK Web Media’s managing director, is one of the country’s wealthiest Internet entrepreneurs. Therefore, the site follows the old affiliate model of driving its traffic to various different merchants – in this case Apple, Nokia, Blackberry and so on – but it differs from many other affiliate sites in one key point: recombu is one of the first clear attempt to create a brand, a true publication that can rival established websites for market share.

The high profile writers and emphasis on content will bring fast SEO rankings – the area where affiliates have usually performed poorly – and with Facebook and Twitter there is evidence that recombu is planning to build an online community through social media marketing. All of this is backed up, of course, by paid search. But what business do affiliates have stepping on the toes of specialist online publications, stealing their journalists and competing with them for readership? What is the point and what are the implications for online publishing? Let’s go back to the beginning

Affiliate Marketing – a (very) quick history
Affiliate marketing is almost as old the modern Internet. It is based on a simple commercial chain: that one website (the affiliate) will drive traffic to another (the merchant).  The merchant will then reward the affiliate with a percentage of the profits of any subsequent sale. Affiliate marketing is best explained as an application of online crowdsourcing. It was pioneered by the adult entertainment industry in the early 1990s before being adopted with great success by emerging e-commerce sites such as Amazon and CDNOW a few years later.

When Google launched AdWords in 2000, affiliate marketing became more widely accessible – affiliates were able to bid on keyword searches, amass traffic and direct it in great numbers towards a merchant’s store page. AdWords was to affiliate marketing what the steam engine was to the industrial revolution – it allowed the affiliate model to work on a vast scale.

In the years since AdWords’ introduction, the affiliate marketing sector has grown sharply. It is Google’s primary source of income (it made the company $21bn in 2008) and in the UK econsultany estimated that the industry would be worth more than £4bn in online sales in 2009. 

The Google Quality Score – (In the beginning)
In the early days of AdWords, anyone could drive paid search traffic. All you needed was knowledge of the relevant keywords and a well-written advert that appeared at the top of the Google search results. This changed in around 2004, when Google demanded that its advertisers create landing pages, to give consumers more information about a product before they clicked through to the merchant’s page. These landing pages were often very basic and of poor quality: loaded with keywords and stuffed with outbound links.

It was not important for affiliate sites to rank highly in organic search results or to tempt their visitors back. With Google AdWords they could ensure that their page featured at the top of the search results every time. Their aim was to get visitors to click through as quickly as possible and hope that they completed a sale so that they could collect their slice. It was a numbers game. A gigantic scientific experiment.

Between 2000 and 2005 were the boom years for affiliate marketing. Hundreds of landing pages were created for almost every conceivable product. To counter to spam and to raise the quality of their sponsored links, in August 2005 Google introduced the Google Quality Score, an algorithm that rated each paid search landing page individually. In a blog post later that year Google explained its intentions:

Why are we doing this? Simply stated, we always aim to improve our users’ experience so that these users (your potential customers) will continue to trust and value AdWords ads. Have you ever searched on a keyword, found an ad that seemed to be exactly what you wanted, and then clicked on it only to find a site that had little to do with what you were searching for? It’s not a great experience.

Quality Score attacked poor quality affiliate landing pages. It awarded these landing pages with a score between 1 -10. The lower the score, the more expensive it was for a marketer to bid on a particular keyword term. Sites that only achieved a Quality Score of 1 for specific terms found that their cost per click (CPCs) rose massively – sometimes to as much as £5. Entire business models were wrecked in an instant. It was the start of a slow death for the first wave of link-heavy, keyword rich, and hastily assembled affiliate landing pages.

Quality Score and Online Publishing
From the start, Google was clear about what it wanted to see, demanding that their advertisers produce (1) relevant content that was (2) transparent and (3) easy to navigate. Although a list of these requirements was published on their website  – the exact components of Quality Score were never revealed and inevitably it became the subject of endless speculation. It was the digital equivalent of the recipe for Coca Cola.

Many of the poorest quality landing pages were hit continuously in merciless attacks. These assaults, in the vivid vocabulary of the Internet, became known as the ‘Google Slap’. Meanwhile, elsewhere, the Quality Score became a catalyst for development. Affiliates developed from one-man operations to full-sized companies: with custom-built technology supporting complete websites that included news, features, product reviews, comparison tables, blogs and photo galleries. To run these sites, affiliates hired copywriting specialists, talented designers and technological wizards in an attempt to make their sites Quality Score proof. It wasn’t necessarily important that people read them; it was important that Google granted a high Quality Score and left them alone.

It was (almost) journalism by (complete) accident
It was worth it. At this point the industry was growing by around a billion pounds each year in the UK alone; more and more brands were investing vast budgets in digital strategies, and, in 2006, the power of the Internet was reflected when Google overtook British television channels as the largest recipient of advertising in the country. All the time the Quality Score was being strengthened. In July 2009, Google increased its power yet again. It hit almost every affiliate in the country. Perry Marshall, an author who has published a book about Google AdWords, wrote on his personal blog:

I got word from several affiliate marketers that Google dropped the hammer today on affiliate review pages.   Many pages went from quality scores of 10 —> 1 overnight. And these were NOT skinny sites, rather well build [sic] out, consistently updated blogs with good navigation above the fold, xml site maps, high click through, hyper-relevant keyword mapping, low bounce rates, long average time on page  … everything else Google loves. 

The Future – blurred digital boundaries
There is far too much money in affiliate marketing for publishers to abandon the whole business model altogether. But while the boom years may be over, the industry is far from dead. If the choice is ‘evolve or die’, affiliate websites will evolve, and this will have consequences for other online publishers.

Recombu is not alone. There are many such affiliate sites currently appearing in all corners of the web, and their emergence is reflective of the growing power and evolving strategies of a number of the top affiliate and search marketing agencies. Whether or not recombu is a success is yet to be seen, but observers in traditional media should treat the development of these emerging affiliate websites with interest. By creating brands, hiring notable journalists and investing time in developing online communities, affiliates are taking a bold step into marketplaces that are typically the fiefdoms of specialist publications from the traditional media.

And while recombu has claimed the mobile phone sector, equal opportunities exist in any other vertical in which affiliates typically perform well: travel, computing, insurance and digital television are just a few. Publishers in these sectors would do well to take note. Affiliates are inexperienced at developing vibrant publications, they have little history of generating journalistic content or forming online communities and they have none of the authority or objectivity of traditional media. But they do have a tried and tested business model.

And, as I write, that is something that many of their competitors don’t.

Also of interest might be:
Jeff Jarvis on The Link Economy  and The Ethic of the Link

Posted in Advertisements, Guest post, Marketing, New Media, Search | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

A list of eight answers to the most commonly-used excuses for not using the web

number 8Have you noticed how people come up with excuses for not using the web? The strange thing is how the excuses follow the same patterns – time/privacy/demographics – and are repeated, almost word for word, by quite different people (particularly no 2).

So here’s a list of the most commonly-heard excuses and how I would answer them (if I no longer just let them fly over my head).

Let me know the best excuse you’ve heard.

1 “How do you have the time to do all that social media stuff?”

Did you ask people if they had time to make calls or write messages before the explosion of mobile/cell phones in 1994 or the spread of emails in 1997?

2 “I leave social media to a younger generation. I’m too old.”

Mmmmm. I find the opposite true – that some younger people have been brought up using Facebook as a social networking tool between mates (pictures of themselves mooning in Magaluf, for example) whereas an older generation come to the professional use of social networking unpolluted.

3 “I cannot bear the invasion of my privacy.”

No one forces you to put up embarassing pictures so you have only yourself to blame. And, if you are tagged inappropriately on Facebook or Flickr, ask to be removed. Or change your friends.

4 “None of my real friends are on social networks.”

Neither are many of mine but many of my existing and future networks of contacts are. Are they friends? Are they professional contacts? They are, rather excitingly, something in between.

5 “I just don’t get technology.”

Who said it was about technology? Are you good at networking? Are you good at media? Then you will be good at this stuff!

6 “I’m not going to give away secrets about my company.”

But when you get to sit on that conference panel, I bet you talk a little more indiscreetly about your company than you would if you were sitting in the privacy of your own office. I set my own online openess at about that level, see an AOP report on a recent video webinar.

7 “I can’t keep up because I never remember my passwords.”

You remember the PIN for your bank card, why not for the username/password for you Facebook profile?

8 “How do you manage your social media over your holiday?”

Just turn it all off and take a break. It’s a job not a hobby.

Photo credit: Andreanna

Posted in New Media | Tagged , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Seth Grimes on the semantic web – but is B2B media ready to benefit?

semanticSeth Grimes, an analyst specialising in business intelligence and text analysis, gave a fascinating presentation – “an introduction to the semantic web and text-mining” – last week in London.

I will try and give you a flavour of his presentation and Peter Thomas wrote it up. But he certainly got me thinking about whether B2B media is ready to benefit from the semantic web.

What is “the semantic web”
When you look up a key word or phrase on Google, the search engine returns content on the basis of the frequency of those words within the text and the links to it from other sites, among other things. The semantic web takes that concept further, returning content by recognising not only the frequency of the words and calibre of the links, but also the context of the request. In short, the semantic web aims to understand user searches in a more human way, adding context to queries.

Seth kicked off with an article by Hans Peter Luhnin the IBM Journal of 1958 which has Luhn, the pioneer of information services, complaining that “no attention is paid to the logical and semantic relationship the author has established”.

Hans Peter Luhn, “The Automatic Creation of Literature Abstracts,” IBM Journal, April 1958

Hans Peter Luhn, “The Automatic Creation of Literature Abstracts,” IBM Journal, April 1958

Seth argues that even then Luhn was perceiving a time when “sense making” would matter:-

Statistical information derived from word frequency and distribution is used by the machine to compute a relative measure of significance

Today that need for sense among all the disorder of content is even greater with the “unstructured data challenge”, as Seth called it, of blogs, emails, surveys and office documents.

Ever more relevant today

Seth used, as an example, a Twitter application called twitrratr which assesses Tweets for “sentiment analysis”. But, using the word “kind” as an example, he showed how difficult it is to do that with the multiple-meaning English language.

Sentiment analysis by Twitrratr of the word "kind" by Seth Grimes

Sentiment analysis by twitrratr of the word "kind" by Seth Grimes

“Is seach up to the job?” he asked.

Only if it provides content semantically enriched with linked data, that is context sensitive and location aware.

And the sooner media companies get in on the act, the better.

The digital universe by industry 2007 from "The Diverse and Exploding Digital Universe” IDC, 2008

The digital universe by industry 2007 from "The Diverse and Exploding Digital Universe” IDC, 2008

Seth quoted from a survey  by IDC to show just how little those who are responsible for content benefit from it.

The broadcast, media and entertainment industries garner about 4% of the world’s revenues but already generate, manage, or otherwise oversee 50% of the digital universe

Finally Seth went to push textmining on sites using automatic content categorization, text augmentation and information extraction (disclosure the presentation was sponsored by text mining platform Nstein). The market, he argued, from a study (partly funded by Nstein) he had published “Text Analytics 2009: user perspective on solutions and providers”,  was worth $350 in 2008 and due to increase by 25% in 2009.

Seth’s own research showed…

Yet, surprisingly, when clients were asked about relative importance of several online qualities, clients placed content management a lowly fifth below brand values.

"What are the primary applications where text comes into play?" survey by Seth Grimes

"What are the primary applications where text comes into play?" survey by Seth Grimes

But, interestingly, clients were more likely now to analyse social media content than traditional news articles.

Is B2B media ready to exploit the semantic web?

B2B media is the opposite of mass media, the former a mass of sites for small but very well defined communities rather than the latter with its few big sites for millions of people. Indeed B2B sites do not want millions of the wrong people coming to their sites but rather few of the right people. Users’ familiarity with an existing print brand, social media activity, all help to refine those who get to the sites. But key to this refinement is search.

Take SHP, a B2B site for the safety and health professionals, as an example. It boasts articles on stress. We do not want millions of people finding the site because they are Googling the word “stress”. What we do want is for safety and health practitioners who are looking for such phrases as “stress in factories in northern England” to find the site. The more complex the keyword phrase used to get to a B2B site is, the more qualified the user.

And, finally…

The issue for us, therefore, is that our more qualified readers have been making choices informed by Seth’s linked data, context and even “location aware” for years. How then will the semantic web benefit them? In fact, does the semantic web have something to learn from B2B?

Photo credit:dullhunk

Posted in Business-to-business, New Media, Search | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments