At the end of 2012, a high-level conference was held at Science Po on the following topics lew practices in journalism. There was a lot of talk about economic models and trends that should not be missed in the years to come. There was also some risk behind the opportunities. UP' transcribes here the excellent paper by Cyrille Franck for Frenchweb.fr
Photo: The press must also be a bit of an "old fart" - Credit ©deepblue66 via Flickr.com
The first totally unavoidable trend is the strong growth in mobile media consumption. In France, nearly 30% of the French own a smartphone according to the latest Crédoc study. If we count all the devices that enable mobile connectivity (phone, tablet, 3G key, PCMCIA card), 64% of the population (over 12 years old) now access the Internet on the move.
Julia Beizer of The Washington Post, came to confirm the importance of mobiles for the media sector. Because mobile Internet users, or "mobinautes" as they are known, are very keen on news. 64 % of tablet-equipped people and 62 % of mobile users use them to consult the news.
Four out of ten readers say they are consulting more news since they are on mobile phones. 31% of American mobile users are using their mobile phone as a priority according to the 2012 Pew Rearch Center studyeven if, out of all Internet users, 60% prefers another access mode (desktop PC, laptop, tablet...). And not only among older people: 37 % of young people aged 18 to 25 consult the news every day on mobile phones, according to the same study reviewed by the Nieman Journalism Lab.
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The mobile is reaching a new and numerous public because it is a way to access the Internet at a lower cost for 10% American mobile users, who have neither computer nor broadband access (much more expensive than here, thank you Free). And this is obviously all the more true for developing countries such as Africa, for whom mobile is a means of bridging the Internet technology gap with the West.
A few clichés about the consumption of information on mobile phones
Julian Beizer tells us how these new readers are consuming news on the move. Contrary to popular belief, they don't expect short content on their phones. Very often, they are on standby and have "time to kill", whether on public transport, in queues... 61% say they read long stories on mobile from time to time and 11% regularly.
On the tablet, it's even better (73% and 19% respectively), even if we would have expected better numbers, so much so that we praise the breathtaking reading experience on the tablet. In reality on the shelves, you read better and longer, but not necessarily whole articles. In society as a whole, we are witnessing a strategy of foraging, regardless of the conditions and media in which it is received.
Moreover, the trend seems to be more towards the consumption of content via the web rather than on applications, whether Chris Anderson likes it or not.. 54% of mobile users prefer to consult news via the web, compared to 22% from applications. And the development of the "responsive design will reinforce that. Responsive design is a way of presenting sites that adapts to the formats of the window in which they appear. The pages of the sites are no longer cut, but reduced and re-arranged automatically.
Interestingly, Julia confirms a phenomenon I've been tracking. The overestimation of the social recommendation for content. We don't really care that much about what our friends consume in terms of culture or information unless they have special expertise. Only 6% of people follow their friends' recommendations on Facebook very often and 27% from time to time. On the other hand, these social functions serve more as alerts about what's buzzing, and what you shouldn't miss to stay in the loop.
Rather, the tendency is to follow recognized experts, journalists, bloggers, passionate but legitimate through the personal brand they will have created, most often with the help of a traditional media. Spotify has also found this to be the case with the launch of shared playlists of musical groups themselves.
Multi-screen in every home? Credit ©halasi_zsolt via flickr.com
Explosion of mobile video and multi-displays
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Mobile video increased by +77% between 2011 and 2012 in the United States and now concerns 36 million people every month across the Atlantic. The founder of Buzzfeed recently recalled that 25% of videos seen on YouTube are from motive.
For his part, 14% of Facebook revenues are now coming from mobile advertising and 604 million of its one billion subscribers use it from a phone or tablet, explained Alice Antheaume last month, based on Reuters numbers. A significant source of income, as advertising rates are juicy for video: up to 60 dollars CPM (cost per thousand ad impressions) on pre-roll ads (before video) with sponsored packaging, Michael Downing, founder of Tout.com.
In addition, 52% of the viewers are watching a mobile medium in parallel (phone, tablet, laptop).
Obviously, we have to take this important trend into account when proposing interactive content: comments, surveys, real-time analysis (such as fact-checking in politics who is dear to me, for example).
The Washington Post is adapting to this new situation by launching The Grid, a mobile app who offers news, streaming, analysis, all coupled with his tribe who shares and comments on the various contents offered. This application already represents 25% of the online newspaper's audience. Au Monde, the mobile totals 1.6 million unique visitors per month (in November 2012), out of a total of 6.6, or 24%. But in terms of page views, that's 61% (160 million out of 260)!
Finally, Julia Beizer gave us some advice that reminded me of the advice that I give myself in training and that is also worthwhile on the shelf.
Going to the essentials, simplifying the interface as much as possible, developing geolocalized services that serve the user when he needs them. She naturally advises the media to adopt a publishing strategy that takes into account the course of a day for the average user. Understand when he connects on mobile: news alerts during morning traffic jams, longer articles in the second half of the evening. But not too much at the weekend, on the contrary, a day of family relaxation where you try to get out more...
Finally, it reminds us how the mobile is an incredible source of information via the user. Crowd-sourcing provides a wealth of photos, testimonials, videos, via the Instagram and Twitter networks, or "home-made" applications such as You du Parisien or that of Street89. As shown by France24 with the Observers.
The end of the text for the benefit of the image?
Michael Downing, founder of Tout.com is convinced that his product has the potential to dethrone Twitter in the years to come.
Everything is a micro-blogging tool using short videos of up to 15 seconds, with the exception of certain media partners authorized to produce 45-second videos.
For Downing, we have entered a definitively visual era in which the written word is going to be erased in favour of narration through images. I am not at all convinced by his discourse, which leaves aside the fact that, parallel to the video that is developing, the text itself is also progressing prodigiously. On the contrary, I believe that we have never read so much on the Internet, but again in a more fragmented wayThe flowers are in a hurry, moving from one subject to another without dwelling on any flower.
It remains for journalists to adapt to this new form of storytelling in order to tell things in a very incisive, effective and impactful way. And why not develop video conversations with the readers?
You can see the interest in case of a field report, to give texture and atmosphere. On the other hand, it seems very complicated to give an explanation, or to develop the slightest argument in 15 seconds, unlike Twitter, which refers to longer content (and very often in text format, hum) via hypertext links.
But we'll have to expect the development of this kind of very viral formats on hot news or shock testimony.
This is the case of the recently revived animated gif-animated gif, especially for the Olympics. Scott Lamb of Buzzfeed went back over the history of this format created in 1987 by Compuserve to get around the low flow and by accident. At first, it was a bug in Netscape Navigator 2 that was bugging the animations created frame by frame (lighter than videos).
The misadventures of Liu Xiang, Injured at the London Olympics is a good example of the power of storytelling via the animated gif. Several key sequences take us back to that dramatic moment when the hurdler gets injured during the race, then refuses the wheelchair offered to him, before returning in tears to kiss the fatal hurdle that eliminates him from the competition he has been preparing for all his life.
The animated gif has also been used in other places, such as in other countries.eaching purposes to explain gymnastics tricks or rules of play at the Olympics. But more often than not, it is a form of information scripting that can distort reality more than it can account for it, as I deplore it in "Storytelling versus information." . Handle with parsimony and caution, otherwise the information will be distorted to fit into these emotional and artificial formats (we are already served with some "magnificent" reports from Stade2).
A race for emotion and pleasure?
Scott Lamb, from Buzzfeedwhich is all the rage across the Atlantic, explains the keys to its success. For him, everything is based on writing "viral" articles. This is now his only criterion for success beyond the traffic, the number of unique visitors or the time spent: has the article been shared a lot on social networks?
A philosophy that is completely in line with that of Facebook, which recently modified its Edgerank algorithm in this sense. As I denounce it there again (what a grouch this cycleron is!) in " Content editors, stop being phagocytised by Google and Facebook. If Facebook promotes the articles that are most exchanged, the risk is to change the editorial line in that direction.
However, an editorial line cannot be reduced to viral content which will naturally lead to more emotion, entertainment, spectacular and polemical content. To the detriment of what will be more complicated, less fun and yet just as important, but on a longer time scale. Readers are like our children: they ask us for steak and chips every day and we give them some. But we also force them to eat spinach, salad and other varied vegetables. To shape their taste and open up their taste horizons. Our readers will reproach us tomorrow for having served them only "informational steak and chips".
I am the first to call for an adaptation of the form to better serve the substance, which I call the packaging of serious news in a "pleasure sauce".. I also call for a better knowledge of our readers, particularly through editorial marketing. But not for just any purpose!
If to survive, a newspaper has to become 100% playful, it is better to pass the hand. Info-tainment is already widely treated in television, no need to add more. It's all about having fun too, but it's all about a balance between practical, fun, social and meaningful. What Buzzfeed is proposing seems to me to be quite unbalanced, in spite of their recent efforts to restore some semblance of their image....
Native" advertising or the discreet return of the advertorial
The "native" editorial, or the coca-colisation of journalism - Credit ©tom-margie via flickr.com
Worse still, in a context of collapsing prices for traditional advertising banners and a crisis in press financing, we are seeing a format that mixes journalism and advertising return to the forefront of the journalistic scene.
In the U.S., this is called the "native advertising". It sounds good, but it sounds a lot like the damn news, advertorials or advertorials that we've known for a long time in our newspapers.
I have been advocating for a stronger collaboration between editorial and sales teams for a long time. For example, by sharing the editorial calendar so that the sales people can go and sell targeted campaigns beforehand, which are more profitable than general inventory. By estimating, when possible, the expected audience on a case to allow them to refine their sales pitch.
Or even why not, by meeting with advertisers to set up sponsored editorial areas on certain subjects, such as the dossier on the reform of the driving licence that I had produced when I was in charge of AOL news. An editorial area that had been sponsored by Road Safety, but on which I had kept total autonomy, once my editorial project had been explained. It was a practical dossier on driving safety which showed, via computer graphics, the direct impact between the tightening of regulations and thea decrease in the number of deaths since 1972 (compulsory wearing of the belt in the front). Morality: an audience card, a happy customer, loyal Internet users and no compromise on the substance. It must be said that our proposal was in line with what the customer wanted. Good, because we wouldn't have changed it.
Sponsoring content created for the reader is one thing. Creating custom content for an advertiser, in the form of a story, I think it goes too far. The ethical barrier seems to have been crossed, even if the surtitle says "info-mertial". It is of no consequence if it is a recipe for clafoutis ordered by a kitchen equipment manufacturer. On the other hand, what if Dassault orders a report on the technological prowess of the Rafale? Will the journalist be able to talk about the exorbitant inflation of development costs? Repeated technical errors that have delayed the launch? Competition from other manufacturers? Probably not.
At best, "native advertising" can be a complement, on practical and citizens' issues, but this will not save the press, because in the long term it can only contribute to further discrediting it. Or else we talk about media diversification with different brands and legal entities, some press groups are already doing it.
IN SUMMARY, a very rich day, of which I am only making a partial assessment here, and which had the merit of raising many questions, both economic and ethical. The challenge is to be innovative and to adapt to this audience, which changes with the modes of distribution and society as a whole. But also to try not to sacrifice substance to form, even if it means being that "old fart" of a father who is cursed at the age of 16. And 40 of us are thanking...