NewsCred’s Content Marketing Cloud Comes to Life

By: Shafqat Islam, CEO and Co-founder, NewsCred

Just a few short months ago I stood on stage at our Content Marketing Summit and introduced our Content Marketing Cloud to some of the most influential brand marketers, publishers, and agencies today. As we all agreed that day, content marketing is not a tactic. It’s a long-term strategy – and it will transform your business.

As I said then, our goal was to deliver something bold and ambitious, and today, we’re doing that with this revolutionary piece of transformative marketing software. We have completely overhauled the way we think about content from the moment of creation to the post-distribution analysis.

We’re changing the game for marketers. For the first time, in one place, you’ll be able to seamlessly plan, source, publish, distribute and analyze your content. The Content Marketing Cloud is truly end-to-end with enterprise grade workflow and collaboration, coupled with market-leading content recommendation technology, including both licensed and original content from The NewsRoom.

Great marketing is great storytelling. Change the way you think about content marketing with NewsCred’s Content Marketing Cloud.
Newscred

The Impact Of Mobile On Publishers — More Consumption, Less Revenue

mobile

News organizations will continue to struggle as users transition from consuming media on computers to mobile devices.

Since the mid-1990s, the lifeblood of media companies online has been display advertisements. The balance between revenue from online subscriptions versus online advertising is shifting. As online and mobile advertising dollars are commoditized via advertising exchanges run by Google, Facebook, and AOL, publishers are increasingly trying to drive revenue through subscriptions. The New York Times announced a controversial paywall in 2011. Their two-year experiment has seemingly reaped significant benefits for the paper. In its most recent quarter, the New York Times reached 727,000 digital-only subscribers, generating $37.7mm of revenue. At the same time, advertising revenue declined for the 12th straight quarter, with digital advertising bringing in only $32.9mm. This is the first quarter that digital subscription revenue surpassed digital ad revenue; thus, validating the controversial decision to create a paywall.

At one time, Google was seen as a partner in the pursuit of growing digital revenues at media companies, but as those companies have struggled and Google has continued to invest more money in online advertising technology and in mobile devices that commoditize the advertising revenue of publishers. Unfortunately, mobile technology platforms exacerbate the trends in online display advertising.

According to the State of Media Report from Pew, a publisher can expect an average CPM (the standard measurement of advertising costs) of $3.50 on a computer. Meanwhile, that rate drops precipitously on mobile platforms. The CPM on mobile devices is only $0.75. With 62% of people reporting that they are getting their news on their mobile devices weekly, this difference in ad rates should alarm every publisher. The Wall Street Journal’s head of Digital Networks reported that the paper is getting 32% of its traffic from mobile devices today and expects to that number to hit 50% next year.

Publishers are combatting the advertising exchanges by selling branded content. Publishers allow brands to sponsor or host articles within the native experience of the online and mobile newspapers. The publishers are able to sell the content creation and distribution of the sponsored content at a significant premium to typical display advertisements. BuzzFeed, which is one of the most prolific distributors of branded content, sells a branded campaign for approximately $92,000. These campaigns come with creative articles and distribution via social networks, which BuzzFeed typically purchases after determining the most viral content that the brand sponsored.

Some purists consider sponsored content to be an alarming and new phenomenon, but as David Carr points out, Kurt Vonnegut was a freelance writer for General Electric in 1947. Additionally, in 1975, Esquire Magazine printed a 23-page article sponsored by Xerox and written by a Pulitzer-Prize-winning author. So there’s a precedent for this type of work.

These branded campaigns are important to publishers because the publishers can sell the native ads at a premium rate, and just as important to the future of publishers, these native ads seamlessly integrate into a mobile experience.

The dominance of the technology giants continues to grow in mobile advertising. Google now accounts for 55% of all mobile advertising. Despite this, publishers should recognize that there are significant advantages to mobile devices – they just need to find ways to capitalize on it. According to Pew, 43% of survey respondents are consuming more news as a result of owning a mobile device.

The only way publishers can compete with the tech giants going forward is to offer a unique product and distribution to a large audience. The unique product they offer is their branded content, but the publishers must find ways to distribute the content both to their audience and through social distribution. This is what BuzzFeed is mastering, and it’s imperative that the legacy publishers catch-up before they lose out on another revenue opportunity.

Copyright Newscred.

Content Curation More Valuable Than Content Creation

curation

Content Curation vs. Content Creation! Tons of print out there about this topic, and a few fundamental questions emerge: (1) What exactly IS content curation? (2) What’s the difference between Content Creation and Content Curation? (3) Which is more important? (4) Is it true that “if you don’t have time or resources for creating original content, you should then use the cheaper, quicker, easier option of content creation”? (5) Is Content Curation really just a nice name for scraping and plagiarizing?

As Content Marketing practice matures and develops, it’s always “worth it” to keep answering these same questions, giving better, more creative answers. I have addressed some of these questions in previous posts, but today I just want to look at ONE of these fundamental questions: which skill, creation or curation, is more valuable in the digital space?

First: What is Content Curation?

In answering that basic question, I have to first say a couple words about what I MEAN by “content curation”. It is NOT “easy peasy”, for it is not a mechanical, machine-generated product that simply finds content already in existence, and provides a link to that content. Content curation, as I have defined it elsewhere, is the art of pulling together information, boiling it down, and presenting it in an easy-to-absorb format for the specific people that are most in need of having that information.

Heidi Cohen assembled 19 definitions of Content Curation, and here are my favorites:

Content curation is the process of using technology to identify sources of content, which are then filtered through human curator for editorial relevancy to a select audience, and then redistributed in a way that tells a story and keeps that audience engaged over time. Nate Riggs
Content curation is the process of choosing the most relevant information to meet your readers’ needs on a specific topic like a good editor or museum curator. Content curation requires more than just the selection of information. It’s the assembling, categorizing, commenting and presenting the best content available. Heidi Cohen
Content curation is the process of identifying the most relevant content on a subject, then sifting and sorting through to cherry-pick the gems that you think will provide the most value to your audience or like-minded people. Kelly Hungerford
Now: Why is Content Curation more valuable than Content Creation?

The bandwagon for Content Marketing is picking up more and more passengers every day, and it’s picking up speed. There are 2 million new posts published on the internet every 24 hours. Yeah; T W O M I L L I O N !!! Most of us are pretty good at using the search engines to find what we want, but we still spend a LOT OF TIME trying to find an authoritative voice that can boil down all the competing voices of the experts, and help us find the “bottom line” and the “golden nuggets”. The created content is out there already. But there’s just too much of it! Our readers are desperate to find somebody that will filter it for them, analyze it for them, prioritize it for them, bring it into one place for them, and draw out the most salient points for them. This is the real art of curation, and it’s only GROWING in importance.

Why is content curation more valuable? Because you want more than one guy’s opinion! You want more than one gal’s bias! You want somebody to save you time, and to show you, month after month, that you can trust them to bring you the best and make it simple for you to digest it. This is what content curation provides, and we’re only going to need MORE of it as the volume of content keeps increasing.

Copyright, written by Ron VanPeursem.

To see the value of social media, watch what happened in Turkey when the local media failed

There’s been a lot written over the past few months about how unreliable social media can be when it comes to chaotic real-time news events like the Boston bombings, and how it perpetuates untruths and misinformation. But the flip-side of this equation becomes clear when you see what has been happening in Turkey this week, where the traditional media has either been asleep at the wheel or has deliberately avoided paying attention to large and ongoing demonstrations against the Turkish government.

Although it’s tempting to compare these events to the uprisings that took place during the so-called “Arab Spring,” sociologist Zeynep Tufekci — who also happens to be Turkish — has pointed out in a perceptive essay that what is happening in Istanbul is very different. For one thing, Turkey has a democratically elected government, and there has not been the same history of brutal repression as in Egypt and elsewhere. So this is not about the overthrow of a dictator.

Local media initially ignored the story

That said, however, there is enough popular dissatisfaction with the government of Prime Minister Erdogan that what began as a small and peaceful protest over the building of a shopping mall has turned into a series of mass demonstrations against the authorities — events that appear to be fuelled by a number of issues, including the government’s aggressive redevelopment policies and some festering historical animosity towards the ethnic Kurdish population.

And what have the local media — or even the local branches of international media — been doing since this all began weeks ago? Mostly ignoring the demonstrations and paying attention to other things, including a special broadcast report about penguins that CNN Turkey chose to air in the middle of one of the largest demonstrations, to the chagrin of many Turks. Other channels broadcast cooking shows and historical documentaries.

Among the reasons given for the lack of coverage are the fact that some of Turkey’s major news entities are sympathetic to the Islamic government of Prime Minister Erdogan, and also that these large media conglomerates have corporate parents who are beholden to the government because of their interests in other businesses like mining and energy. In frustration, some of those involved in the protests started a crowdfunding effort in order to buy a full-page ad in the New York Times, and raised more than their goal of $53,000 in less than 24 hours.

Social media filled the news vacuum

In response to this information vacuum, social media has become even more important as a source of news about what is happening and where. Hashtags on Twitter and Facebook groups and other tools — including private mobile-messaging services, since the Turkish government has reportedly been blocking some public internet services — have become a crucial way of getting information for many Turkish residents. Just as they did in Tahrir Square in Egypt, these tools have allowed those who are experiencing the news to report on it themselves.

So while social media and tools like Twitter were criticized for doing damage to people’s understanding of what was happening during the Boston bombings or Hurricane Sandy, because of the false information being circulated, those same tools have become a lifeline for many in Istanbul and elsewhere in Turkey because their local media is not doing its job properly.
turkey

In fact, Twitter became such a crucial tool for some of those in Turkey that the prime minister railed against the service, calling it “the worst menace to society.” And in a somewhat darker move — one that sounds a little more like Egypt or China than a democratic nation like Turkey — as many as two dozen protesters were detained by the Turkish authorities on Tuesday because they were accused of using Twitter to foment unrest, and charges could be laid.

Letting citizens know they aren’t alone

In her essay on the effect of social media on the way that information flows during such events (something she also wrote about while the Arab Spring was taking place ), Tufekci notes one crucial aspect of what Twitter and Facebook and other services do during such events: in a nutshell, they allow others to discover that they are not alone. The breaking down of this “pluralistic ignorance,” as Tufekci describes it — helped jump-start demonstrations in Egypt when decades of repression and poverty had been unable to do so.

In the end, social media and networked systems of all kinds accomplished in Turkey what the traditional media is supposed to but didn’t: namely, informing Turks about what was happening in their country, and at the same time letting those involved know that their voices were being heard by the government. And that is the real power of networked media.

Post courtesy of Newscred.

Four Myths About Content Syndication

As marketers continue to move into a space traditionally owned by publishers, they are likely to seek out best practices, tips and previous examples of what works, and what hasn’t. One surefire way to bulk up your audience from an engagement perspective is to leverage syndicated and licensed third-party content. By distributing interesting content that is relevant and valuable to your users, you can reach new audiences, regardless of the platform, while generating continuous traffic to your site.

However, be advised that several myths do exist when it comes to content syndication, which I define as legally distributing content to third-party sites. Below you’ll find four myths, and my rationale for why they should be ignored.

Myth #1: Syndication will eat your own audience

The reality: Some content creators are concerned that if they syndicate their original work, they will lose a portion of their endemic audience if existing readers can read their articles elsewhere. Although you don’t want other sites scraping your site for free content without a deal in place, syndication can place your articles in front of new eyeballs. Syndication can also help build your brand recognition and ultimately grow your own site’s traffic.

If you license your content to partner sites, you are also creating a new source of revenue. In fact, several of our publishers are receiving six figure checks from syndication deals by licensing their content through our distribution platform.

Myth #2: You don’t need to pay for content

The reality: Some new publishers mistakenly think they can pluck content from other sites without paying for it. To be clear, there’s nothing wrong with recommending links to interesting content on the web.

However, creating commercial sites without compensating or properly attributing the journalists that worked to get the story is both unprofessional and unethical. You may also encounter legal issues for lifting content without permission, such as in the recent case of Meltwater v. the Associated Press.

Myth #3: Syndication is bad for SEO

The reality: There are too many self-appointed ”gurus” out there whispering misinformation about SEO and content syndication to their clients. This myth stems from the idea that search engines penalize sites with “duplicate content.” SEO is obviously important to traffic growth, so this issue warrants a closer look.

It is widely known that Google doesn’t like to recommend sites that consist of nothing but scraped content (see Myth #2). However, Google has no issue with syndicated content. What really matters to search engines is the distinction between shady content farming techniques and legitimate syndication.

Don’t believe me? Let Google explain: “Duplicate content on a site is not grounds for action on that site unless it appears that the intent of the duplicate content is to be deceptive and manipulate search engine results.”

The bottom line is that legitimate syndication through a platform like NewsCred means more pages that will be indexed, and does not affect your Google PageRank whatsoever. NewsCred has yet to see a client get blacklisted by a search engine after publishing syndicated content, and many of our clients garner millions of page views from search.

Myth #4: Brands shouldn’t pay for distribution

The reality: Brands are now putting journalists on their payroll, and these writers are producing high-quality content on their behalf. But just because a brand’s content is good doesn’t mean marketers should expect free distribution. After all, it’s still branded content with a commercial agenda, even though it’s being produced in-house or by an agency.

Publishers deserve to be compensated when brands want to access their audience. And paid distribution (whether traditional banner ads or sponsored content) is the lifeblood of the media ecosystem. If your agency thinks their PR team should be paid instead of the publishers that carry your content, you should question whether they have the best interests of the content ecosystem at heart.

Copyright NewsCred. Stefan Deeran / Client Sales Director

Journalism & tech trends for 2013 from ONA NYC

The New York Chapter of the Online News Association hosted a discussion on 2013’s top tech trends in digital journalism this past Thursday in the Joseph Pulitzer Hall at Columbia University.

Journalists, students and varied media professionals watched as Amy Webb, author and head of Webbmedia (in partnership with NewsCred, Dutton and Digital First Media) discussed the technological innovations that will (and are already) heavily impacting online news reporting in 2013, during a half-hour conversation with Sree Sreenivasan, Chief Digital Officer at Columbia, and all around media king. For those that don’t know, Sree (as he’s known – he’s borderline mononym) is one of the most prolific and popular figures in media and journalism. So what does the future hold?

1. Print plus video = secret sauce

No surprise here, really. Webb discussed what she called the resounding success of HuffPost Live, and mentioned that the Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, and MSN are planning to allocate significant resources to their video production teams. Sreenivasan said the shift to video was as monumental as the shift from broadcast TV to cable in the mid 1980s.

Why? According to Webb, it’s a fear among news executives that “nobody under 30 reads anything anymore.” While that’s admittedly an exaggeration, nobody can deny that this coveted demographic is embracing video wholeheartedly.

Sree didn’t think it was as bad as the unnamed execs, saying that a balance between print and video would be the secret to successful content production. Quality, he reminded the audience, was what really mattered, not the medium.

“People who will succeed aren’t necessarily video journalists, they’re people who are comfortable in the language of video.”

2. More aggregation

Content aggregation is nothing new. But the ethics of aggregation, and how it can work against you were the topics covered.

Sree and Webb bantered back and forth on the ethics of, for lack of a better term, paraphrasing articles and then claiming original authorship.

“It’ll break on the New York Times, and then you see a chunk on Buzzfeed, a chunk on HuffPo, then The Atlantic, then everywhere,” Webb said. “Your exclusives stay exclusive for about a second,” Sree answered.

Webb and Sree both agreed that publishers needed to be wary of aggregating too fast, making their version of the story too close to the original, and then warned the audience that too much aggregation can eventually spin out of control, citing the online community at Forbes.com as an example. Forbes has built a robust community of bloggers, but in the past has apparently had problems policing the content they posted.

How then to best aggregate content while simultaneously keeping the quality high, and ensuring everything stays on message? Said Webb, Turn to a specialist.

In what seemed like a scripted moment, but really wasn’t, Webb said specialists in content syndication like us here at NewsCred offer a tremendous service to brands and publishers looking to make their content a stronger part of the brand identity. By getting the best of the best, syndication specialists are able to broaden the scope of the content and simultaneously ensure the quality of each little bit of data. Quality matters, probably now more than ever. Talking distribution and syndication doesn’t matter if the quality isn’t there. That’s cart before the horse right there.

3. The Atomic Unit of News, or, “aggressive versioning”

There are a few names for this concept (“aggressive versioning” is one I like) but the core concept remains that by using an algorithm and responsive design, a content provider would be able to give you the best version of the story based on your device and past browsing history.

So, theoretically speaking, if I wanted to read about Bradley Manning and Wikileaks, my content provider of choice could use my past browsing history, and maybe a series of questions on the subject to provide a story with the appropriate depth and scope. If I had never looked at anything about Wikileaks, I would receive a basic introductory story.

Sree said a lot of this versioning was intended to stop the dreaded “bounce” wherein a user begins to read a story on one site, and then stops partway through, does some research, and then moves to another site and continues reading. By tailoring the story to the reader, content providers have a much better chance of keeping that consumer on their site.

“We need to serve people the nugget of news that matters most,” remarked Webb. Webb also addressed the need to tailor content to whichever device the reader is using. She said that some content works well on some devices, but falls flat on others. The New York Times’ landmark story “Snowfall” was an excellent example, agreed Sree. One of the most popular pieces of journalism in recent history, he said the story was spectacular on a computer or tablet, but lost its vibrance on mobile devices. He said, “It was the form factor.”

4. Syndication: the alternative to traditional aggregation

So now what? The challenge for many brands looking to be aggregators (brands as publishers) is taking good content and positioning it well (as opposed to burying it in poor design and praying people don’t ignore it). If you want a masterclass in good content design, Webb and Sree said look at Pepsi.com.

In quite possibly the most flattering moment of the night, Webb acknowledged that with NewsCred’s assistance, Pepsi.com has a better grasp of effectively using content than most major news organizations. We blushed a little, but also believe her. It’s our area of expertise.

Copyright by Paul McNamara / NewsCred Staff

4 things you need to know about news and technology now

Smartphone and tablet use is on the rise, and this is good for journalism. A Pew Research Center study released yesterday is chockfull of findings and data that are sure to excite news junkies. It found that half of Americans use smartphones and tablets with mobile internet connections, and 66 percent of those users get news on their devices. With so much content being read and shared across platforms, here are four things you need to know about news now:

Smartphones/tablets are key sites for news consumption and their users read more news than average
Most smartphone and tablet owners use their devices to read the news. Sending and checking email is the only activity that trumps news consumption on these devices, and news consumption is close behind. Rather than detract from overall news consumption, people who uses multiple devices actually spend more time overall consuming the news. Almost one-third of people who become the lucky owners of an iPad, Kindle, etc. find that they read news from more sources than before. What does this mean for you? The user experience must be clean and consistent across plaforms. Don’t discount the mobile experience when producing and publishing content.

News is more social than ever
For Americans under 30 social media has surpassed newspapers and equals TV as a primary source of daily news. For the rest of us, smartphone owners rely on social networks more than the average user for news. Nearly half of smartphone news users, 47 percent, receive news through email or social networks sometimes or regularly, while 35 percent share news this way at least sometimes. The percent of traffic that comes to news sites from social media platforms increased 57 percent since 2009. Great images and headlines can help your content get more traction across social networks. People are also most likely to share information that they trust, especially if someone trusted shared it with them first.

Reputation matters
Consumers want news from names they trust. The reputation or brand of a news organization is the most important factor in determining where consumers get their news, and this is even more true on mobile devices than on laptops or desktops. This means that licensing content from a trusted source, rather than producing your own, is a good option if you’re thinking about content strategy.

People still prefer the browser to apps
On both smartphones and tablets, the majority of users prefer using web browsers to access news rather than specific apps. Quartz’s and USA Today’s approach—to make a smartphone/tablet-friendly website—seems especially relevant given the release of these findings. Google and the CopyBlogger offer good tips on how to make sure that your website works smoothly on mobile browsers.

Copyright: NewsCred Blog