The Filter: Hope for Newspapers?

In this week’s Filter, newspaper circulation is up, Millennials actually read newspapers, Time Inc. still struggles, Facebook patents the news feed and Demand Media wants to go upscale.

Newspaper’s get a ray of hope 
The Audit Bureau of Circulations released its semi-annual report of daily circulation and there appears to be a light at the end of the media tunnel. Newspapers actually gained readers over the last six months, with national daily circulation up .68 percent (both digital and print). According to the report, digital circulation is up from 8.66 percent to 14.2 percent. This could be seen as good news for newspapers, as they may be able to set different ad rates based on these performances. But as Poynter points out, these numbers could tell varying stories: ABC’s new counting rules allow a double-dip between digital and print.

The results are the second full set compiled under new rules for counting circulation implemented in September 2010. Because ABC releases such results every six months, Poynter’s Rick Edmonds wrote yesterday, they offer “the first opportunity in 18 months to make valid apples-to-apples comparisons.” But how useful those comparisons will be to advertisers is unclear: The new rules allow publishers a variety of ways to count subscribers to various products multiple times. Digital replicas, branded editions such as Spanish language papers and digital subscriptions can all be counted according to publishers’ preferences, “allowing organizations to double or triple-count subscribers if they pay for access to one or multiple digital platforms,” Edmonds wrote. Whether publishers took advantage of that ability won’t be apparent until they release their own statements at mid-year.

Click here to read the Poynter article.

Millennials and Print Newspapers: A Surprising Story
Facts are never what they seem to be, sang David Byrne. And looking at a recent Pew study, facts turn perception on its head. More good news for newspapers: about one in four 18-24 year olds actually read a newspaper. The black and white and read all over kind. Couple that with a recent Rasmussen poll that found 66 percent of American adults say they prefer reading the print version of a paper rather than a digital one, and this looks to be a banner week for the newspaper industry.

Reports on the media habits of Millennials, those “digital natives”, have given some the impression that young people never read newspapers. However, survey evidence stubbornly insists that they do. For instance, the recent Pew State of the News Media study notes that 23% of people aged 18-24 reported reading a newspaper yesterday. As a Millennial myself, I was slightly skeptical. Were these 18-24 year olds just confused about what a newspaper is? Further evidence confirms the existence of young people looking to print: The New York Times reports that 10% of its hard copy subscribers are aged 18-24, which is on par with the 9% of this age cohort who subscribe digitally.

Click here to read the NPR article.


Time Inc. Ad Sales, Circulation Down
At the other end of the media spectrum, Time Inc., the world’s biggest publisher, continues its downward spiral. All Things D reports “revenues dropped 3 percent” during the 2012 First Quarter and “operating income shrank by 38 percent.” The days of the towering media company are over and magazines continue to struggle to keep reader attention and sell ads. The digital world offers opportunity, but as Time Warner must be thinking, at what cost?

Corporate parent Time Warner blamed the decline on both slowing ad sales (down 5 percent) and newsstand sales (circulation revenue was down 2 percent). Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes occasionally calls out Time Inc.’s efforts to get its titles onto the iPad and other tablets, and the unit has some digital success stories on the Web. But no one expects Time Inc. to turn into a high-growth business again.

Click here to read the article at All Things D.

Facebook patents the news feed
In a move that signifies the arms race between new media companies and old media companies, this week, Facebook patented the “news feed.” As media companies explore frictionless sharing, in and out of the social network behemoth, the idea of a news feed becomes more important to how consumers get their information. And with Facebook owning the patent for this type of delivery, will media outlets trying to emulate the news feed have to license it through Facebook, giving it more power as we push forward in the social age?

The patent gives the company a strong lock on the ability to let users see not just status messages, pictures, and links to videos of online friends, but also actions those friends take. Those actions could include playing a game or leaving a comment on someone else’s post. Reading the patent more closely, you’ll see Facebook discusses how to let users see certain status updates, pictures, links to videos, and even actions friends take. The social networking giant describes keeping a profile of each person on the social network in a database, identifying relationships between said users, generating “stories” based on the connections, and then creating a news feed for each user. Last but certainly not least, Facebook watches what actions the viewer takes in response to the stories (such as liking, sharing, or commenting), and then uses that information to serve more stories. It’s also noted that content can come from outside the social network and that users can change preference settings to filter in or out what stories they see.

Click here to read the ZDNet article.

Demand launches YouTube channels
Demand Media still gets a rap as a content farm, but the company is trying mightily to add more premium content Demand Media has partnered with Google’s YouTube to produce premium content. As Demand works around Google’s algorithmic changes, the company has changed its model, according to top exec Joanne Bradford. But a partnership like this speaks more to traditional media business model where everyone is both a partner and competitor. It also speaks to the push of original, premium video content that publishers and agencies are hoping will bring the big dollars from the TV world into digital.

It was only about 14 months ago that Google made headlines for targeting Demand Media with algorithmic pesticides, classifying the Santa Monica, Calif.-based company’s freelancer-produced content as farmed material created specifically to game its search engines. Contrast this with Wednesday’s launch of Demand’s latest “premium” video channel on Google’s YouTube platform, eHow Pets. Overnight, Demand seems to have evolved from pestilent content farm into trusted partner, with YouTube now funding three Demand-produced video channels through its premium content initiative.

Click here to read the article at PaidContent.

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