The Media Oxpecker: Google and the Death of Content Farms

december 9, 2011  03:42 pm
The Media Oxpecker: Google and the Death of Content Farms
Calibrating Google Panda (Jim Merithew, Wired)
Every week we round up media & tech industry news you may have missed.
  • Yahoo is removing 75,000 Associated Content articles in a late reaction to Google Panda, a algorithm tweak that adversely affects the search ranking of content farms and their ilk. In place of the "retired" articles, Yahoo is launching a new network, Yahoo Voices.

    In August, Demand Media took the similar step of deleting 300,000 eHow articles.

    But why does Google's search tweak – which was first announced in February and has been updated throughout the year – call for such drastic action? Just ask Sophie Lee, whose site, was affected:
    Rather than appearing, as it had, among the key first 10 results when people put "IBS" or "irritable bowel syndrome" into Google's search box, [Lee's site] was now about 300th.

    And being on that first page is crucial: a recent study showed that 89% of clicks are on those 10 results. Suddenly, Lee's site – which is her livelihood – had effectively vanished from the sight of searchers in the US.

    "We were crushed by the Panda update, and the site is now gasping for breath," she said. "Traffic is down 75%, revenue is down 90%, and I'm getting seriously worried about the future."

  • Media and advertising execs are preparing for a "bleak" 2012, says Reuters:
    Executives who attended the Reuters Global Media Summit in New York, London and Paris this week said advertisers have turned more cautious in recent months and want to protect against uncertainty around the euro zone's future and political gamesmanship in the United States.

    Globally, advertising deals and other business partnerships are being re-assessed and reworked, meaning deals that would normally run for six or nine months are now being shortened to just two or three months -- or less.

  • A new forecast shows that Google accounts for 44 percent of the digital ad market, while Twitter says its number of advertising clients has grown by 50 percent since spring. And then there's this:
    To launch a one-day promoted trend, you’ll have to wait several months (there’s a waiting list) and be ready to shell out an eye-popping $120,000.

  • 2013 will be the watershed year in which web ad spending surpasses newspaper ad spending, projects ZenithOptimedia. But wait! Big money is shifting away from advertising, and towards promotions, which Borrell Associates says is the ad category to watch:
    So dramatic has the growth been in this category — and what’s projected to come — that the gouge it takes out of advertising budgets won’t be a small bite.

  • "Internet blogs" beware: U.S. District Judge Marco Hernandez ruled that Oregon's shield law does not apply to investigative blogger Crystal Cox, because the state's legislature "has not expanded the list of publications or broadcasts to include Internet blogs."

    Hernandez said that Cox doesn't qualify as a journalist because, "There is no evidence of (1) any education in journalism; (2) any credentials or proof of any affiliation with any recognized news entity; (3) proof of adherence to journalistic standards such as editing, fact-checking or disclosures of conflicts of interest."

  • 78 percent of U.K. newspaper articles are written by men, according an informal analysis of bylines conducted by the Guardian. A comparable study has not been conducted in the U.S., however a 2011 ASNE Newsroom Census found that newsroom employees skewed 61 percent male / 39 percent female.

  • Facebook has launched a Subscribe button for websites to add next to reporter bylines.

  • Twitter unveiled a revamped interface this week. "This is more than an update. It’s a serious rethinking of the entire concept of Twitter," writes John Gruber.

  • How can hyperlocal sites do a better job of engaging their users with social media?
    It’s not enough for hyperlocals to simply post articles to their Facebook page or just tweet them out, say a number of engagement-conscious publishers and editors. They connect the dots between engagement and sustainability, and in fact there’s a steady flow of reports that say engagement produces multiple business benefits, building value that can attract advertisers or – for nonprofits – funding.

  • This week in Groupon schadenfreude: A class action lawsuit alleges that Groupon hacked a merchant's email in order to alter a contract to extend the terms of its deal.

  • David Carr on Laura Lang being named as the new CEO of Time Inc.: Part of the reason that magazine companies have so eagerly hopped on the iPad and other tablets is that those products will finally be able to provide data showing a return on the investment of advertising dollars. It isn’t a reach to bet that Ms. Lang will help magazine publishers be a part of a media age built on metrics.

  • "I think newspapers, if they partially solve one of the three big problems they face, have a decent future," says Warren Buffett, who recently purchased the Omaha World-Herald Co.

  • Will the dailies stay daily?

  • "Twitter is absolutely the first and last thing I do everyday to check news … I don't mind Twitter's enormous volume because the RT function provides something more important: emphasis. I get to see what resonates with people and gets RTed … Generally, if I see an article in my feed once I may not click on it right away but if I see it twice I will." Marketplace reporter Heidi Moore on her media diet.

  • And finally, some deep thoughts on the future of technology from a man whose bio includes this line: "Among other things, he invented the Web browser’s 'back' button."
    We are in a world nobody designed or expected, driving full tilt toward — a wall? a cliff? a new dawn? We must choose wisely, as if we could …

    … So for tomorrow’s computer world, I confidently predict more of the same, but much more so — louder and more intrusive, with more interruptions, more security threats, more monopolies and, of course, worse interfaces.

    The Web will get even more chaotic, with new forms of annoyance, temptation and danger. There will be more and more software settings nobody can get right, and the phone support people in India who talk you through the menus will be taught new slang to make your hours with them seem more comfortable.