College media is a funny beast. It seems to lag about a year to three years behind the mainstream media. This applies web-first thinking, blogging, web site design, and monetization. So, this weekend, when the CoPress forum became an active discussion of CPM vs CPC vs CPD ad models, I couldn’t help but grin twice.
First, because this is a conversation that the rest of the media had a few years ago (and has never resolved), and second, because this struck on a particular passion of mine – monetizing online media. (Go figure, the Business Director is interested in monetization)
The following post is an expansion of my forum comments, and still worth a read if you’ve already been through the forum.
The Current System
There are really three ways for advertisers: by impression, by click, and by time period (usually day). Of course, there are hybrids of all three models, which the top ad networks utilize (Facebook, Google). The issue, is that all of these models have some inherent flaw. CPM doesn’t reward for the effectiveness of an ad, CPC necessarily reward high traffic, and CPD, while it guarantees a nice minimum about you can make, has both of the same issues. Read more →
Eric Ulken has a forward-thinking post on OJR about how BusinessWeek is going beyond page views and unique visitors to define their audience. Internal metrics, things like the number of comments on a story, number of return commenters, and so on, could be exponentially more powerful if you managed them with a CRM database tied to your CMS; that is, not only keeping track of the blind numbers, but also associating those numbers with people, or your community.
There’s a related discussion on advertising rates in the forum right now. Just think about how you could sell advertising much more intelligently with better data and you’ll begin to get the picture.
I think it begs a mention, however, that there are not one, not two, but three BarCamp NewsInnovation jam sessions going down this weekend: Portland (9 to 5 Pacific) and Chicago on Saturday, and Miami (11 to 5 Eastern) on Sunday. These one of a kind events will be discussing the full spectrum of journalism and news, including business models, formats and hopefully not too much Twitter.
#collegejourn is hosting a conversation Sunday from 8 to 11 Eastern called “Bring A Prof.” The goal is to figure out how to bring j-school into the 21st century and, considering it’s a controversial topic and been well-publicized, it should be quite the conversation.
In our Google Group, J. Ryan Zambon started a thread on bounce rates for college newspapers, wondering if the numbers he was seeing for The Hoya were anything out of the ordinary. Max and Joey reported similar statistics, and Joey added that “the bounce rate stat is very inaccurate. Compare it to your exit rate which theoretically should be 100%-bounce rate. This is rarely the case. Don’t worry too much about those detailed analytics – they’re just not accurate enough to really be trusted.”
I spent part of the summer studying analytics, and one of the biggest takeaways was that the numbers themselves don’t matter. It’s what you do with them. For instance, in a study of bounce rates you take what you start with as your baseline and judge your experiments on how you shift your numbers from the baseline. If your goal is to lower the bounce rate, then you might A/B test with a couple of new designs and see which produces the most favorable results.
We started off the week (well, Tuesday actually) asking, “what strategies do you have for bridging the print/digital divide?” In terms of engaging the campus audience, integration with Facebook appears to be the easiest win. Mo Jangda argues that it’s important to tailor your services to your core demographic, saying that ”it’s nice to incorporate Twitter, Digg, etc, etc. into your site, but if they students that read your paper aren’t on board with those services, then there’s really no point.” He says that they installed the share button on their site a year and a half ago with “huge success.”
If you’re looking for numbers to quantify success, I would (and this is building off the previous paragraph) set a baseline for number of referrers from Facebook, install the widget, and see how your traffic coming from Facebook grows over the next six months and a year. It doesn’t really matter what those numbers are; rather, you’re looking at the rate of change from point A to point B.
Creating An Open-Source Business Model For Newspapers - Another roundup of ideas for newspapers. My favorites: “Focus on original content, do not rewrite wire stories or press releases. If newspapers start charging for content people are more likely [to] pay for content they can’t get anywhere else. [...] Become the host for all important discussions about local issues and politics. Moderate the discussions to ensure civil discourse. Nothing kills discussions faster than offensive comments made by anonymous people. [...] Hire additional salespeople. It is is a different sales environment today and it requires a fresh approach. Salespeople used to selling full page or half-page print ads are not the going to be able to transition easily.”