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Messaging apps-the future of news, publishers cooperate to tackle adblocking and data strategies of Time inc. and BuzzFeed

Friday, February 19, 2016      Future Media Lab.       0

Filip Ševčík

(Left) Filip Ševčík, Communications Intern at EMMA/the Future Media Lab..


 Continuing with our bi-weekly news roundup, Filip Ševčík shares the news that caught his eye over the last two weeks. The news round-up is a way for the Future Media Lab. team and members of the Future Media Lab. network to share articles about innovations and developments in the media sector, including references to relevant media policy debates.


Here are Filip’s choices for this week:


Flash to be discontinued by 2017: Flash’s prolonged demise is coming to an end. After switching YouTube to HTML5 last year, Google announced that its ad networks won’t be running display Flash ads from 2017. Something publishers should keep it in mind when developing their digital products


Adblocking trends in Europe: Statistics are inconsistent about the adblocking prevalence in continental Europe and the UK. While data from Sourcepoint/ComScore leaves UK (10%) far behind Germany (24%) and France (27%) regarding the use of adblockers, research from PageFair indicates a much higher figure for the UK (21%), 25% for Germany and a mere 10% for France.


Google, make up your mind about adblocking. Shortly after the brand new content blocker from Samsung became a hit, Google pulled it from the Play Store for violating developer guidelines. However, it was back online by the end of the week, without any particular explanation. The content blocker might further increase adblocking on mobile, which currently reaches 37% worldwide. On the other hand, context is important and the actual use of adblockers is not black and white. For instance, Axel Springer’s mobile web has less than 3% of its users using adblock.


Choice between ad supported articles, subscription with ad-free experience or no content could be one option to tackle the adblocking issue – it worked well on desktops for Forbes, considering their tech savvy audiences, and more publishers are introducing the option on their websites.


WAN-IFRA Adblocking Action Day was a great occasion where even outwardly competing publishers shared their knowledge and in‑house experience with adblocking. As it’s continuously growing, it is necessary to collaborate and develop a joint position among publishers on issues such as decline in trust, privacy concerns and improve the overall user experience of the users not using adblockers. Key takeaways are available here.


The number of viewable ads in Europe is decreasing. Only 58% of display ads fulfilled the Media Rating Council (MRC) viewability standards – 50% of ad pixels are in view for a minimum of one second – in the last quarter of 2015. But advertisers and publishers should keep in mind that viewability does not necessarily guarantee ad effectiveness, as Inter Public Group survey revealed. About 80% of people won’t recall an ad that meets the lowest limit of MRC standards. While we’re discussing ad effectiveness, Forbes just introduced a money-back guarantee that its native ads will raise awareness, favourability, recall or purchase intent of the promoted brand.


Time Inc. wants to rival Facebook and Google. With the acquisition of an ad tech company Viant that includes the remnants of MySpace and its 1 billion of user registration data, Time inc. wants to bolster the ad targeting capabilities and contest Facebook and Google in the size of data pools.


But data is just one part of the input. “It cannot tell you why anything happens, it might only tell you what happened if you’re lucky”, according to Dao Nguyen, the publisher of BuzzFeed. Intuition, creativity and company culture that encourage interaction with users are equally important.


Publishers can no longer be held accountable for comments on their websites, if they have a functioning notice and take down system in place, according to the decision of the European Court of Human Rights from 2 February 2016. It’s certainly a good step to support independent journalism, freedom of expression and clarifies the legal uncertainty created by the e-commerce law from 2001.


Are messaging apps the future of news? Publishers are scrambling for a first-mover advantage when it comes to content distribution over chat apps. Wall Street Journal has over 2 million followers on the fastest growing social media app, "Line" while BBC has already been experimenting with Viber, WhatsApp and the anonymous, location-based app Yik Yak for a while. Quartz also has decided to develop its own news app, which resembles a messaging service. It seems that is has been determined to be a good way to boost engagement, however these apps tend to lack the reach of already existing social apps. If you still doubt the potential of messaging apps, take a look at WeChat and its success in China.


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