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Death by a million page views: How the mindless pursuit of reach is killing publishers

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Here's the presentation I delivered at ICEEfest 2016 in Bucharest. The rush for scale in the past few years is diminishing everything we know about user value. Instead of building a better, deeper relationship with out users, we've turned them into anonymous numbers, distilled down to page views. And when advertisers wanted more views at a lower price, we created more. And we wonder why newsrooms are dying.

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Death by a million page views: How the mindless pursuit of reach is killing publishers

  1. 1. Alan Soon Founder & CEO alansoon@thesplicenewsroom.com @alansoon @splicenewsroom ICEEfest Bucharest
 Death by a million page views: How the mindless pursuit of reach is killing publishers
  2. 2. About Splice… and why this matters to me. • Newsroom strategy and operations consultant • Digital transformation and change management • Career journalist • Radio, TV, newswires, magazines, online • Ex-CNBC, Bloomberg, Star TV, Channel NewsAsia, Yahoo • ONA Singapore co-founder • Rockstart startup accelerator in Singapore
  3. 3. I’m not here to piss you off. But if you’re a publisher, you’re destroying your brand and your audience
  4. 4. This is an appeal. We need to un-fuck ourselves.
  5. 5. "We are coming at last to the end of the Gutenberg Age." — Jeff Jarvis, Director of the Tow-Knight Center for Entrepreneurial Journalism
  6. 6. How the mass media business model works 1. Create as much content as possible. 2. Sell as many as ads as possible.
  7. 7. This model hasn’t changed in… forever. And that’s how we got here.
  8. 8. We’re in the age of personalized media, not mass media.
  9. 9. It’s time to ask: Why are we so obsessed about reach?
  10. 10. "It’s like, well, we put junk food in front of them and they ate that, so that must be what they want.” — Ev Williams, co-founder and ex-CEO of Twitter
  11. 11. Let’s be honest here. The pursuit of reach and impressions doesn’t matter if you can’t… 1. Produce great content cheaply, at scale 2. Sell ads against all that content, at scale 3. Build a habit in your users
  12. 12. Attention spans have… The average attention span today is 8 seconds (a 33% decline since 2000) (Btw, a goldfish has 9 seconds of attention) 17% of page views last less than 4 seconds 49% of people read less than 111 words on a web page
  13. 13. How far can we push this? Source: kissmetrics.com
  14. 14. We’re in peak content. 
 Journalists are forced to keep churning more stories — even though there aren’t enough eyeballs, time or ad revenues to go around.
  15. 15. We’re killing our users with our headlines. “8 things you should never feed to…” “You wouldn’t believe what happened when…” “I did this… and this amazing stuff happened…”
  16. 16. As journalists, we got into this business to inform and educate society.
  17. 17. Instead, we gave them this.
  18. 18. It’s all starting to unwind.
  19. 19. There is no silver bullet. But here’s one place to start: Choose value over volume.
  20. 20. Start thinking of users as humans. Understand the people behind the numbers.
  21. 21. The answers aren’t going to come from the industry. So let’s learn from another.
  22. 22. Hotels.
  23. 23. Why hotels? • Creating products and services that people actually want to pay for • Investing in behavioral analytics to understand what people want • Obsessed about the user’s experience
  24. 24. Some of the things they share in common. • Prioritizing bars and social spaces for interactions • Free, fast internet • Comfortable common spaces for work
  25. 25. For publishers in the crowd… How are you rewarding your users? How are you building loyalty? How are you building new experiences?
  26. 26. It’s time to un-fuck ourselves.
  27. 27. thesplicenewsroom.com @alansoon
  28. 28. Alan Soon alansoon@thesplicenewsroom.com Alan Soon is Asia's leading specialist on newsroom operations, digital transformation and the business of media. He is the Founder & CEO of The Splice Newsroom, an editorial consultancy that builds, develops and transforms newsrooms. For more than 20 years, Alan has worked in radio, TV, news wires, magazine and online across Asia. He started out as a reporter and grew into other operational roles including producer, editor, newsroom manager and eventually a business leader. Alan led one of the largest digital news teams in the industry as Yahoo’s Managing Editor for India and Southeast Asia. He’s also worked at CNBC and Bloomberg across Asia. Alan is a regular speaker at international media conferences and is a co-founder of the Online News Association in Singapore.