Recent quotes:

Fragmented discourse, in commercial speech too.

While his team at Giles-Parscale designed the ads, Parscale invited a variety of companies to set up shop in San Antonio to help determine which social media ads were most effective. Those companies test ad variations against one another—the campaign has ultimately generated 100,000 distinct pieces of creative content—and then roll out the strongest performers to broader audiences. At the same time, Parscale made the vendors, tech companies with names such as Sprinklr and Kenshoo, compete Apprentice-style; those whose algorithms fared worst in drumming up donors lost their contracts. Each time Parscale returned to San Antonio from Trump Tower, he would find that some vendors had been booted from their offices.

Two years after buying Elite Daily, the Daily Mail says the Facebook publisher is worthless - Recode

The owner of the Daily Mail, the publisher that bought Elite Daily in January 2015, says the New York-based startup has been a bust, and has written down all of its investment in the money-losing company, citing “poor performance.” It is taking a $31 million loss in the process. […] “audience retention and revenue growth have been disappointing and losses have exceeded expectations,” leading to the write-off.

Good luck suckers

Independent media is just becoming an impossible business. If you’re trying to run a content business and you’re not named Apple, Google, Facebook or Amazon, good luck to you. You’re going to need it.

Facebook adjusts News Feed to favor friends and family over publishers | The Verge

The technical change this time around is that Facebook will favor links shared by your friends and family over links that publishers place directly into the News Feed through their pages. The Verge will share this post on its Facebook page, but that will matter less than if large numbers of people paste this link into a new post on Facebook to share it with their friends directly.

Salon's enduring losses

in the quarter ending Dec. 31, 2015 (the most recent quarter for which data is publicly available), Salon had $1.95 million in revenue and $2.19 million in expenses, for a net loss of about $250,000. That’s better than the year before — in the quarter ending Dec. 31, 2014, Salon had $1.47 million in revenue and $2.27 million in expenses, for a net loss of about $800,000 — but it’s still a net loss.

Publishers 'feeding on scraps from Facebook', says Bloomberg Media boss | Media | The Guardian

Newspapers, magazines and other publishers are “feeding on the scraps” of Facebook’s multibillion-dollar ad business despite playing a central role in keeping the social network’s users happy, according to the boss of Bloomberg Media. Justin Smith, chief executive of the financial information company’s publishing arm, told the Guardian that even though Facebook was sending traffic to publisher websites, it was making far more from ads in its news feed which was filled with publisher content. “They keep the $16bn to $18bn they get in the news feed, and the news feed, with personal sharing down, is effectively all of our content, it’s effectively just an aggregation of premium publishers’ content,” he said.

Adblocking ahead

Another, recent report from Adobe and PageFair, a service that attempts to monetize users who block ads, estimated that sixteen percent of people in the US block ads. In some pockets of the internet, the rate of adblocking has always been high—according to Adobe and PageFair, 26.5 percent of people who visit gaming websites block ads, and at a tech website I used to work at, even five years ago, the rate hovered around thirty percent—but according to the Adobe report, usage of adblocking software has grown forty-eight percent in the US over the last year.

The smell of money burning: trying to build a tower from the top down

The Intercept is funded by First Look Media’s nonprofit arm. It has delivered regular hard-hitting stories since its launch February 2014. “You can think of The Intercept as our version of ProPublica,” says Bloom, referring to another nonprofit that supports investigative public interest journalism. First Look’s nonprofit arm also supports its only other media property, a small experimental project called Reported.ly. 'The idea is that it is important work. We think we have a way to make it a sustainable property.' Michael Bloom, First Look Media President In addition to running this operation, Omidyar has charged Bloom with building a companion for-profit business that will support the entire enterprise. Bloom envisions building what he calls “the world’s leading platform for the most compelling independent voices.” He believes the future includes all manner of media—videos, photos, shorter posts, podcasts. He’ll broaden the scope of the company to include “arts, culture, media, entertainment, possibly even comedy and sports.” Any voice, he explains, that’s outside of the mainstream. By this, he means that First Look is well-positioned to support the creators of counterculture: activists and artists with strong opinions of any sort—right or left—who seek to express those opinions through media. It stems from Omidyar’s feverish belief in the importance of supporting free speech. Bloom anticipates that First Look will meet directly with media creators to figure out what they need and help them with it, much like a literary agent helps its authors, say, or the venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz supports its entrepreneurs. If they need an editor, First Look will offer it. If they need a video studio, say, or office space, done. “We’re going to produce content for our own platforms and for others,” he says. “The HBOs, Netflixes, Hulus of the world.” The objective is to give writers, filmmakers, and producers the place and tools they need to “create their most ambitious work,” and then help them build and make money off of their audiences. It’s not clear just how First Look will do this yet—perhaps advertising or subscription or partnerships with other media companies—but Bloom reminds me that he’s very early in his tenure. He won’t go into the specifics of how he plans to execute this, though he says we’ll begin to see new products starting this fall.

The commodification of content

To a platform supremacist, online media—traditional online media?—today is no more rational than print media seemed to the first online publishers. Newspapers wrote and printed hundreds of redundant articles a day because their trucks could only deliver so far; websites produce an enormous amount of duplicative content jockeying from the outside for space in search results or social feeds, or simply because they expect people to read their sites like papers, front-page first. Recontextualized within a platform, this level of duplication is easier to see as waste. Fifty embedded John Oliver videos become one Facebook video shared under a few headlines. A hundred slight acknowledgements of the same political gaffe are reduced to a trending topic link. What were heralded as novel and bold content strategies are reclassified as spam; territory where publications could fruitfully mine to subsidize whatever else they thought they should be doing is rezoned or reclaimed under eminent domain.

Innovation gets smaller before it gets bigger

This hints at a larger concern: that the energy and creativity used to create new content management systems and layouts and ways to display news and information will be redirected to a narrower—or, at least, externally determined—purpose: getting an edge within the arbitrary confines of a platform. This kind of media innovation is everywhere. It’s screenshotting important paragraphs into a tweet, and creating an app to streamline this process. It’s figuring out how to make videos for Facebook that don’t need sound to get viewers’ attention. It’s a curiosity gap headline. It’s shooting videos vertically instead of horizontally so they look better on Snapchat.

Platforms demand difference

The first thing you notice when you spam your content across platforms is that it’s rare, in 2015, for one thing to do extraordinarily well in more than one or two venues without significant modification. The next thing you learn is that the best way to succeed on a given platform is to write/film/record/aggregate with that platform explicitly in mind. The next thing you learn is that doing so makes that content extremely weird when taken out of context, which makes it incompatible with other venues. A Vine video might work on Facebook, if you’re lucky, but a Facebook video probably won’t work on Vine. Quizzes that explode on Facebook seem strange on Twitter. A tweet might seem powerful and informative in the Twitter timeline, but look small and pathetic embedded in a website; a tweeted joke might do decently on Twitter but function better as a screen-cap on Tumblr, if at all. The article or video or object that functions well across all contexts is either transcendently newsworthy or shocking—and therefore rare—or extensively adapted.

Getting it backwards

How to fix book publishing Start with the author, and build from there

JK Rowling's flash back to being a newbie

[…]“The Cuckoo’s Calling[…]was treated like any new novel by a first-time writer. Little, Brown sent out bound galleys and talked it up to retailers, as they do with all new titles. We aim for all of our books to reach the widest possible audience and make every effort to market and publicize each title in a way that connects it with that audience.” I spoke to several book retailers, at both large chains and independent stores, and not one could recall seeing an advance reading copy, or hearing anything from the Little, Brown sales representatives.“There was absolutely no buzz,” Ms. Coady said. “There was no direct correspondence from the editor or a publicist. We didn’t hear anything from the sales representatives. They’ll usually tell us that there are five to 10 books on their list that we want to make sure you read. They know our customers and what they like, so we trust them. This book wasn’t one of them. I don’t know if we bought any copies. Maybe one.”[…]The publisher procured two quotes, or blurbs, for its news release, one from the Scottish crime writer Val McDermid, the other from the English novelist and actor Mark Billingham, who said, perhaps all too presciently, that the book was “so instantly compelling it’s hard to believe this is a debut novel.” Booksellers said Little, Brown could have rustled up more prominent authors, including at least one American. […]I asked Little, Brown for reviews that appeared before the identity of the author was known, and the only examples it provided were from Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and Booklist, all trade publications. Several newspapers reviewed it in London, but no mainstream American book critic did. The early reviews were positive — far more so than those for “Casual Vacancy” — which must have been heartening to Ms. Rowling. But those in Publishers Weekly and Booklist were a single paragraph, and they failed to generate much buzz or help it stand out from the masses of genre fiction published each year.

Ramifications of FB hosting news site's content

The company recognizes that the new plan[…]would remove the usual ads that publishers place around their content. […] allow publishers to show a single ad in a custom format within each Facebook article[…]The new proposal by Facebook carries another risk for publishers: the loss of valuable consumer data. When readers click on an article, an array of tracking tools allow the host site to collect valuable information on who they are, how often they visit and what else they have done on the web.That data might instead go to Facebook, which like many companies uses that information itself to target and track consumers more effectively for advertisers (and which has been subject to criticisms over its privacy policies). […]

The end of endless scroll

Forbes uses endless scroll on its article pages, but there was no significant uptake in pageviews or time spent, so the publisher plans to eliminate the endless scroll from its article pages when it redesigns them later this year, said Mark Howard, CRO there.

Booktrope brings collaboration to publishing

Anyway, if you’re accepted into the system, you then post your completed manuscript on Booktrope and try to attract a team of editors, designers and marketers, who can then collaborate through Booktrope’s online tools. Authors aren’t paying other team members directly, but offering them a share of the royalties. That means the author doesn’t have to pay out of their own pocket for these services, and the team members will have an incentive for the book to do well.

NowThis scraps its website, goes all-in on social

Senior V.P. of strategy and partnerships Athan Stephanopoulos said that the decision to essentially scrap the company's website was a reaction to consumer demand, and an acknowledgement of the way people use technology in 2015. Other media companies will follow suit, he said, "unless we live in a world where people are not awake.""We're not trying to lead the industry," he said. "We are leading the industry and kind of redefining what a media company today looks like."

Zuckerberg’s no Oprah: His book club is a dud

His first pick, Moisés Naim’s “The End of Power,” […] instantly sold out in many stores. […]sold over 13,000 copies, according to Publishers Weekly. The book club conversation took place online two weeks later on a Tuesday afternoon and resulted in only 175 comments. […] So out of 200,000 likes, where did all the readers and book buyers go?

Why ISBN?

what becomes obvious in any discussion of the ISBN and/or other identifiers is that there are two interests, sometimes running parallel to each other. One interest is in discoverability, and many authors say they see no benefit from the ISBN in that regard. The other is the quantification and understanding of the size and scope of publishing, which can be accomplished only by counting industry output -- which cannot be done without some form of identifier, a tag.

Accidental bestsellers (not to mention Harry Potter)

Kate DiCamillo’s Because of Winn-Dixie had been abandoned unread in a box when an editor went on maternity leave and decided not to return. Dusted off and published by her replacement, it has sold 8.8 million copies. Jeff Kinney’s now international bestseller Diary of a Wimpy Kid initially met resistance at Abrams, where some wondered whether kids would buy a book that they could already read for free online at the Poptropica site. Random House acquired Wonder by R.J. Palacio, a first novel published under a pseudonym, for a modest advance. Even those with the highest hopes for that book didn’t dream it would sell two million copies, spend 100 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list, and spawn a movement about the importance of being kind.

@emersonspartz gets freeze-dried

The appetizer course had not yet arrived. He checked the time on his cell phone and cleared his throat. “Every day, when I was a kid, my parents made me read four short biographies of very successful people,” he began. On this occasion, I was the only person listening to his speech, but he spoke in a distant and deliberate tone, using studied pauses and facial expressions, as if I were a video camera’s lens. When he got to the part about virality being a superpower—“I realized that if you could make ideas go viral, you could tip elections, start movements, revolutionize industries”—I asked whether that was really true. “Can you rephrase your question in a more concrete way?” he said.

Free books flooding the market

the days of releasing the first title in a series as permafree have passed. All that accomplishes now is to flood the market and make it harder to sell ebooks.

Lazy, trend-chasing consumers ignore the long tail

Harvard University Professor Anita Elberse, published in October 2013 in her book Blockbuster: Hit-making, risk-taking and the big business of entertainment. It is worthwhile noting that Elberse points out that less than 1% of the digital songs in US account for more than 80% of sales. This seems to exclude the current observability and relevance of Long Tail theory in the market of the digital songs.

James Patterson's Most Expensive, Exploding Book

For just under $300,000, one super (rich) fan of James Patterson will have the opportunity to purchase the author’s next book and watch it explode a day after opening it. The self-destructing book is part of a plan to promote Mr. Patterson’s next title, “Private Vegas,” due out Jan. 26 from Little, Brown and Company. The price tag of $294,038 includes a first-class flight to an undisclosed location, two nights’ stay in a luxury hotel, 14-karat gold binoculars, a five-course dinner with Mr. Patterson and a copy of “Private Vegas” that will self-destruct 24 hours after the purchaser begins reading it. While the details of how the book will explode are being kept secret, the process will involve a bomb squad and a location that could come straight out of a Patterson story.

Despite creating entire worlds, authors are anonymous in ours

Unless you’re Stephen King, or you’re standing inside your own publishing house, assume that nobody you meet has ever heard of you or your books. If they have, you can be pleasantly surprised.

Author sums up marketing his book

Screaming at the fucking wind.