Tuesday, September 13, 2016
As a news junkie that gets all his news and sports info on his smartphone, I noticed that tabloid style headlines have been creeping into the news cycle and are getting  my attention. What use to be the domain of grocery cart checkouts has now spread like wildfire on the internet to get the attention of the reader. These are being used in native advertising ad networks to generate traffic to ad farms. Ad farms are websites that use these ads as click bait so they can deliver 10+ ad impressions in one page view that they get paid for by ad networks, generating a 30% ROI in some cases.  Some of these ad farms are legitimate and some are not and participate in ad fraud by using automating traffic generating techniques.

This is tabloid journalism today envisioned by the ad tech community to make money and has been packaged as content marketing. A lot of this content is scraped off other websites so they get it for free, or some are just fake content. We will talk about this in a later blog as I could not resist the urge to have some fun with my own version of tabloid journalism in this posting and take a fun poke at American politics and their use of shock publicity tactics that is part of today’s news cycle.
 
10 Reason Why I admire Donald Trump

1. Donald is senior citizen at age 70 and is still going for it—it being the biggest job in the world. He is an inspiration to all the under-employed baby boomers out there.  But his campaign team should keep a nametag on him in case he forgets his name as Alzheimer’s disease can show up in people Donald’s age at any moment. There are other things that they will need keep handy, like Viagra to keep his libido working to keep up with is young wife and adult diapers for those long meetings for those frequent trips to the loo. I can see the ad now “Trump Self Cleaning Adult Diapers” that last for 4 hours.

2. Donald’s days as a TV celebrity has taught him all the tricks of Hollywood to generate free publicity with tabloid style comments to control the news cycle.
I heard Justin Bieber’s publicist is secretly working on the campaign. At least he did not get arrested at the Mexican border or was caught smoking pot yet. Perhaps, all the fights were staged at is campaign rally to generate Hollywood style publicity, he is a master showman.

3. Donald is not afraid to use the sex card and has a hot younger wife
. Donald’s wife’s nude picture was splashed on the front pages of the New York Post for the world to see during the campaign. My guess Donald secretly sent them to change the news cycle that day to him away from his opponents as we all know sex and scandal sells.  

4. He is a self–made billionaire (so he says), but he did start with a few million of Dad’s money. What is there is not to like about him? He his the epitome of the American dream including all his warts. This guy has done it all, successful businessman, real estate magnate, best selling author, Hollywood celebrity and his name is an over-exposed brand.

5. Critics say Donald does not like immigrants, but he hires a lot of them at his construction sites, casinos and hotels around the world, as they are a cheap source of labour, just like any good capitalist. So you can say he is an old fashion American when it come to new immigrants as he travels by private jet to manage his empire.
 

6. Donald likes to put his foot in his mouth to generate free publicity and has been accused of being a redneck.
But in Canada we have the same person of the same cloth and he is a national icon and he is another Donald, that’s right our own Don Cherry. Imagine Don Cherry being Trump’s campaign manager. There would be a tidal wave of inflammatory remarks as there are a lot people in America that like the Donald.

7. Donald is a smoke and mirrors salesperson from his early days as a developer (read his book the Art of the Deal and you will learn a few) and is using that same approach today in a political campaign, which is driving some naive people nuts. The world is full of snake oil salesmen with hidden agendas, who better to keep you safe, as you know you can’t out-con a con artist.

8. Critics claim that Donald is a bad businessman and as he has gone bankrupt a few times. I think this is good thing as Donald knows all the backroom shenanigans of the financial sector and knows how to handle adversity. Who better to keep Wall Street in check than somebody that knows all the tricks and done a few himself to get a deal done. I bet he could have prevented the real estate bust in 2008 as he would have kept all the players honest.

9. Donald appears frugal and is running a campaign with spending at least as possible using his own money
. I guess this is a good thing to have, versus a spendthrift politician with a big war chest, who spends foolishly with other’s people money to win. Conspiracy rumours has it that though, there are secret multiple offshore accounts that is funding his PAC activities via Russia and his pal Putin.

10. Donald is fearless, has thick skin, receding hairline, can’t see his feet and is a big bully.
Who is better to fight for America than a scrappy, street-smart man who is not afraid in telling his version of the truth versus sanitized press releases and cover-ups. Who do you want in your corner to challenge the powerful NRA to keeps guns off the streets in America and Canada, as other administrations are a bunch of wimps.

Now these are my 10 reasons, why I like Donald Trump for President, but is the world ready for Donald Trump as President of the USA? Expect more fear mongering and a couple more scandals by Nov 8 when we will find out who wins the most powerful job in the world.
Tuesday, August 30, 2016
Publishers and marketers have to deal with all the non-human traffic (bots) on their websites that act a like a real person for the long-term sustainability of the medium.The first evidence of this was the “ Comment Bots” that invaded any website with a comments feature with fake comments or product pitches. It has been estimated that 51.5% of traffic on the Internet are by humans with Good bots at 19.5% and Bad bots at 29% in the 2015 Global Bot Traffic Report, published by Imperva Incapsula, an Internet security company. The reports boast that this is the first time human traffic was higher than bot traffic, which suggests that bot traffic was more than 50% in the past, which is a red flag, especially if your are in the business of selling or buying ad impressions.

 

A bot is a web robot on the internet that does a specific task that is completed faster than humans can do manually and is done repetitively at computer speed. The Good Bots (White Hats) can be a web spider that comes by and indexes all your content for the search engines or a web scrapper that takes your content and republishes it on their website like shopping comparison sites. It has been estimated by Imperva Incapsula that Google Bots visit a website 187 times a day and account for 60% of all search engine spider traffic.

 
 

The Bad Bots (Black Hats) can be one that generates fake traffic and links on websites as part of a click fraud business model or they can be sniffers/spiders looking for security gaps (old code) to loot credit card numbers or email addresses. It appears a lot of this Black Hat activity are scammers in online ad networks and exchanges that have fake websites or legitimate ones that have been hijacked. You can buy millions of bot visitors on the Internet from traffic generating companies disguised as web site testing solutions. Check out this search for “ Traffic Generator Bot,” it was an eye-opener for me.
 

 

In the media business all this bot traffic is not good as the expectation is that all web traffic on a site is a real person. You will never get repeat advertising business if the click on your ad was from a computer as it will not generate the expected outcome, which is a sale of your client’s products. How are the web analytics companies dealing with this issue? Google Analytics which most publishers use (because its free), introduced a Bot filter in their analytics software in July, 2014. This filter, which is a checkbox option in the Analytics dashboard, will exclude all hits from IP address on the IAB/ABC International Bots and Spiders List.  This list is available for subscription and includes a White Hat (Good Bots) and Black Hat (Bad Bots) list that can be incorporated into the web analytics software.

comScore, another digital media measurement company, announced in August of the same year that they acquired MdotLabs a software solution that fights against Bad Bots on publishers websites that uses cyber-security methodologies to identify a variety of Black Hat activities including bots, click farms  and traffic generation techniques. This software was incorporated into comScore’s Media Metrix solution. and this solution when used saw a 35% decrease in web traffic. This 35% is almost the same as the 29% Bad Bot traffic estimate stated earlier for validation of the data.

Then, in October 2015, the Media Ratings Council (MRC), an organization for the media measurement industry, released their Invalid Traffic Detection and Filtration Guidelines as part of their mandate to provide standardized industry best practices to root out non-human traffic and to combat ad fraud.  So it seems the controls are in pace in the industry, but as anybody knows in cyber security it is an endless cat and mouse game with no finish line in sight.

Richard Murphy, Sr. VP of Auditing at the BPA suggests the following recommendations for publishers to minimize their exposure to unwanted activity on your website:

1) Know your traffic sources. Most of the invalid traffic comes from sourced or purchased traffic. Organic traffic is generally pretty clean;

2) Know your partners. Use partners you know and trust. There are many links in the online transaction chain and you are only as strong as your weakest link;

3) When possible use certified technology platforms and solutions (MRC, IAB, TAG, CCAB/BPA , AAM). These companies have voluntarily opened up their operations to independent third-party review of industry best practice compliance.

The problem I find with all the web analytics data is I need to sort through all the data that is relevant to achieve the expected marketing outcome of generating sales for my brand and I can sometimes waste my time with irrelevant data. Are Facebook likes and clicks true indicators of campaign performance or should we rely on trusted methods like of managing the response through actual customer contact through a variety of entry points: in-person, on the phone, mail, email, contact forms on the website and social media.

Brian Gillett of Target Audience Management Inc. (TAMI) an audience circulation expert suggests publishers to focus on these metrics - address change requests, email newsletter sign-up, subscriber sign-up and request for more information. All other statistics should be taken as a relative measure as the growing use of privacy software (ad blocking), permission base use of cookies, traffic/click fraud generations techniques and technical flaws are part of the data that goes into the analytics.  Brian also goes on to say that open rates of newsletter is sometimes blocked at the destination due to privacy software or opens are recorded that are not really opens due to technical issues in the tracking software.

Bots are evolving into virtual people now, they no longer do simple repetitive tasks, the tech community is hyping a bot that will have artificial intelligence as part of its make-up. There is a race to create the bot that automates order taking, customer service or conversations through Messaging Bots on smartphones. That’s right the next time you order take-out you will be talking with a Message Bot with artificial intelligence plus machine learning. Facebook in April of this year released a beta version of their Message Bot and now is receiving applications for bot apps for the messaging system. The movement towards a personal one-on-one relationship with customers with mass market scale is happening in the digital world as the technology is coming, but unfortunately it looks like the only real person in this future relationship is you.

Friday, July 08, 2016
This is the final COPA Digital Media spotlight post, and I saved magazines for last. What I have noticed while looking at all the different forms of digital media, is that a lot of them are becoming more magazine-like as they jump on the “Content Marketing” bandwagon, while magazines are trying to be more ad tech-like, which is ironic.

This observation is all part of the digital media convergence that is happening in the market with all media brands crossing over each other in the digital space.During the course of my career I have met a lot of magazine publishers at various conferences across Canada and I picked out some of the niche publishers that go unnoticed nationally, as they cater to specific geographic area, lifestyle segment or hobby. We created a niche content award category for the 2016 COPAs that will give these brands a higher profile in Canada and recognize their talents.

 

Saltscape is a popular title based in Halifax. The regional lifestyle magazine for the East Coast is known for its  stories on food and drink, homes & cottages, people & culture, healthy living and travel. This integrated brand has a website, paid magazine (print & digital), email newsletter and consumer events as part of their publishing mix. The magazine has a distribution of 425,000, with website traffic of 200,000 visitors per month. Saltscape evokes a sense of community and regional pride that ties in all the provinces on the east coast of Canada.

 

Avenue is a free monthly urban lifestyle magazine for the city of Calgary. It offers its readers content on city & life, restaurants and food, shopping and attractions and events. To compete with mobile local business search ad companies for Calgary retailers, they have a restaurant search widget on their site. This is supported editorially with a Foodie Guide and Best Restaurants Awards to provide readers info on who are the hottest restaurants in the city. Their digital platform includes all the reader touch points with a website that has traffic of over 250,000 visitors per month, a digital edition of the magazine and email newsletters. There is also an Edmonton edition of Avenue that is co-published by Red Pointe Publishing in Calgary and their partner Odvod Publishing in Edmonton.

 

The focus of Homes magazine is to cater to Toronto's new homebuyers. It has all the information you will need to start a search for a new home, that includes profiles of new home builders and new projects. Additional content includes design and décor, financial news, and community profiles. The free publication is available in print and digital edition, website and email newsletter that includes new project alerts. The “Search for a Home” widget enables the magazine to be part of the buying process during the home research stage, in addition to providing stories on homes design, communities and builders.

 

Real Weddings is a regional Bridal magazine in BC that caters to the $4.5 billion wedding industry in Canada. It is estimated the wedding crop each year is 160,000 with the average spend including the honeymoon clocking in at  $30,000. The BC portion is 20-23,000 weddings a year, which translates into a $690 million market.  This niche had to get digital fast as the majority of marriages are between couples 25-35 years old that are digital savvy. The style and form of the website is radically different from other magazine sites as it is more picture oriented and navigation is set-up with a page advance control, that mimics turning a page. There are 27 web pages of content that you can scroll down to see stories on inspiration, style,planning and venues. You can check out their digital edition of the magazine here.

 

Hobbyist’s titles are a staple of the magazine industry, where a reader can enjoy their passion by reading stories about things they love to do from an authority on the subject. Scrapbook & Cards magazine is for the papercraft hobbyist. What started out as a free print magazine that is published 4x year, now offers paper kits, online seminars, local events, and items for sale on their website. They have effectively leveraged their authority on the topic into additional revenue streams so people new to the hobby can learn, play and socialize. They offer a digital edition of the magazine and email newsletter as part of their content distribution model. 

 

Cycle Canada is a hobby magazine for the Motorcycle enthusiast. It's a Canadian institution for people that like a little speed and adrenaline as part of their day. The site has information on new and used motorcycles; product news and video test-drive coverage. Like Homes Magazine, Cycle Canada assists people is shopping for a new motorcycle or a used one with their “Product Search” widget on the website. The widget is supported with editorial that talks about all the products in the marketplace. The video inventory is packaged as Cycle TV to bring event coverage and test-drives to their audience. Cycle Canada is a paid magazine published 10x per year in English and French (Moto Journal) and is packaged with free content on their website and an email newsletter.
 
 

Kayak, a bilingual history magazine for kids 7-12, offers a mix of fictional short stories, videos, games and contests to learn about Canada’s history. The kids can play on the site with quizzes, puzzles and match games. They have created interactive features with one themed “Bubbleology” that asks readers to submit a caption for photo. The site has a list of 75 Heritage Fairs where history re-enactments are held across Canada. This is a non-profit magazine produced by Canada’s History Society that relies on donations, paid subscriptions, sponsorships and grants to sustain the magazine. Canadian Heritage and Hudson Bay Company are key supporters. You can visit the French version at this link.

All these magazines have evolved like other media from their traditional channel to include a website, digital edition and email newsletter as the optimal digital mix with some free and some paid content. Some have also become more sales oriented with “Product search” widgets or the selling of branded products and services online to create revenue beyond web display ads.  The word on the street is for magazines to be more magazine-like according to the discussion held at Digital Day held by the Ad Club in May. They talked about the importance of “Authentic 3rd Party Content” to attract the reader and the “Return of Engagement” metrics for the marketer. This is a good spot to be in and magazines have a leg up, as they already are a trusted 3rd Party source, with lots of engagement stats.

If you have missed the other COPA Digital Media spotlights you can check them out below. The deadline for entries for the 2016 COPAs has been extended to July 15  and you can enter here.


COPA Digital Media Spotlight
Tuesday, June 28, 2016
In my opinion, content marketing has its roots with associations that produce content for their members as a form of industry branded content, as their views are not typically neutral like traditional media.

It has been estimated that there are 18,000 associations in 1,500 subject classifications in the Associations Canada directory. To attract members, a magazine subscription has been used as an anchor for the member recruitment package. This has evolve in the digital age to include a website, newsletter and digital and print versions of the magazine. Through the use of digital editions, many associations have saved on the printing and distribution of a print magazine with digital opt-in at 20-40% of the member lists.

As a media planner I have always liked association publications for B2B campaigns, as the audience is equivalent to a paid audience and each firm must be a member to get the magazine. I can also target by vertical market and there are a lot of industry associations to choose.

Companies like MediaEdge Publishing and Naylor Associations Solutions have helped associations in producing their magazines/websites/newsletters and selling advertising to help pay the costs. So lets take look at various associations’ websites and see what they are doing.

 
I noticed that association content strategies differ from traditional media sites. The Canadian Medical Association (CMA) uses more of a member service approach with content for physicians like CMA policy and medical industry advocacy, clinical resources, professional development and financial planning.

They provide print/digital journals, websites in both English (CMAJ) and French (Santé Inc.) and an email newsletter. Each issue of CMAJ's digital format is sent to 16,000 medical students and residents, plus additional journals for psychiatrists and surgeons. There are over 83,000 members across Canada and each can receive discounts items such as car rentals, luxury cars, courier, phones, computers, travel and private golf memberships.  

 
The association of the Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada (CPA Canada) is one the largest in the country with over 200,000 members. The bilingual website provides the content you would expect geared to the accounting professional with articles that talk about the nitty gritty of the profession, including audit & assurance; finance/investing; financial reporting; management accounting; strategy risk and governance; and forensic/investigative accounting. There is some free content on the site plus paid that can be bought through the online store that has 1,300 titles.  CPA Canada offers a website, two email newsletters and a magazine in print and digital. The bilingual magazine has 250,000 subscribers with 25% opting for the digital version. CPA Canada also has a members discount program for expenses such as hotel, cars, wireless, fitness clubs, courier and clothes.

 
That’s right there is even an association for associations call the Canadian Society of Association Executives (CSAE)with 10,000 members. This modern looking website offers their members a magazine style format for content with a blog, articles, research, bookstore, events and a supplier directory to help their members do their job better.

Michael Bell, from MediaEdge, who works with the CSAE says that long form journalism is alive and well. He says it's needed to explain issues in depth that cannot be done in a snack size article (500 words) that has typically been used by the adtech community as click bait. You can check out the digital version of their magazine at this link
 
 
The Association for General Contractors in Ontario has a wide range of content for its 2,500 members that includes news, events, government relations, health and safety and a store. The store enables members to buy industry related documents and sign up for courses. They have a discount program for members for the purchases of cars, insurance and medical services like we saw with the CMA.  They have also partnered with a company called biddingo.com that enables tenders to be advertised online for subcontractor procurement and bidding. Their magazine is branded “The Generals” and is available in print and digital.

After looking at these sites you will notice they all have similar content style and a reader service approach seen in traditional media models. What is unique about industry associations is that they can use their collective buying power to generate discounts for their members on products and services that you do not see on traditional media sites. For B2B marketing, associations offer media products that are highly targeted and deliver a qualified audience that is like a paid subscriber, the ultimate proof of readership.

If you have missed the previous COPA Digital Media spotlights you can check them out below. Up next and our final spotlight will be on Niche publishers in Canada. The deadline for entries for the 2016 COPAs is July 11 and you can enter here.

COPA Digital Media Spotlight

Tuesday, June 21, 2016
We live in a multicultural society and it's only fitting that we take a closer look at the cultural media websites that have evolved to serve the different cultural groups that have been in Canada for multiple generations.

 
I am a big fan of cultural media as I was its biggest advocate 20 years ago when I worked on the Chinese Edition of Maclean’s and Enroute Asia with Air Canada.

Immigration to Canada brings about 250,000 new Canadians each year and in 10 years we will have added a population of 2.5+ million, enough for a city the size of Vancouver. The biggest cultural groups in by population in Canada are Indo-Asian (1.6M), Italian (1.5M) and Chinese (1.3).

Together these three communities total a population of 4.4 million or the equivalent of 20 cities the size of Regina (pop 210K). So let's have look at some digital properties that serve these communities.


 

This is an English site serving the Indo-Asian community that has a similar format as other news sites but with more Indo-cultural content that includes coverage of Bollywood. It has standard content mix of editorial, news, entertainment, lifestyle, sport and e-paper.  The Indo-Asian community is now the largest cultural group in Canada with an estimated population of 1.6 Million. Fifty percent of the population is located in the Toronto GTA. The top five cities with Indo-Asian communities are:  Toronto 834K, Vancouver 252K, Calgary 85K, Montreal 79K and Edmonton 61K. 


 

This website serves the Quebec-based Italian community with news, community, culture, entertainment and sport. The news section includes stories of news in Italy and a heavy dose of European soccer coverage. The print newspaper was established in 1941 and is based in Montreal, a hub of cultural media in Canada. It is estimated that there are 1.5 million Canadians of Italian descent and it is the second largest cultural community in Canada. The top five cities with Italian communities are: Toronto 465K, Montreal 261K, Vancouver 76K, Hamilton 72K and Niagara 50K.

 

Sing Tao Toronto is a Chinese daily print with a website, radio station and digital supplements to offer marketers to reach the Chinese market. The Chinese (Mandarin and Cantonese) community is the third largest group with a population of 1.3 million and the community gained prominence during a heavy period of immigration prior to the takeover of Hong Kong by China in 1997. Seventy percent are located in Toronto and Vancouver.  The top five cities with Chinese communities are: Toronto 531K, Vancouver 400K, Montreal 91K, Calgary 75, Edmonton 53K, and Ottawa 42K.


 

The multilingual broadcaster Omni TV, a Rogers’s station, caters to multiple cultural groups that includes Italian, Punjabi, SE Asian and Chinese. This news and entertainment site offers an inventory of local news, soap operas, and movies for all these cultural groups in the form of video. The site included local news for BC, AB and ON markets including kids playing hockey in local leagues. What was not expected was a heavy dose of hockey content to promote the game to new Canadians.


 

While not the largest, but still prominent is the Jewish community in Canada that numbers 380,000 with 75% located in Toronto (200K) and Montreal (86K). This bilingual site offers news, perspectives and culture that reflects the Jewish lifestyle, like kosher food recipes. This site is polished and is on par with any mainstream media site.

The Internet has enabled the cultural community news media to reach more members of their communities, where traditional media could not reach. This is especially noticed in markets where the population is less than 30,000 where print may be uneconomical. It has been able to unite these groups that are located in urban markets across Canada. The biggest stumbling block will always be that advertising budgets cannot afford multiple versions of their ad in different languages. But a smart marketer never follows the herd as they will not stand out in a crowd. So maybe it's time to revisit cultural marketing as part of the media mix.

The COPA’s Digital Media Spotlight hopes to raise the profile of community news sites this year, and cultural media are considered as part of this community news community.

If you missed the other COPA Digital media Spotlights including Part 1 on Community News, check them out below.

COPA Digital Media Spotlight

About Me
Martin Seto

 
Martin Seto is the principal of Reflex Media, a media consultancy practice offering media owners digital publishing, event management and ad sales help. His media expertise also include working with ad agencies as a media buyer/planner for tv, radio, print, outdoor, magazine and online. He has been in the advertising and media industry for 25+ years and he has been an instructor/speaker with Centennial College and at magazine conferences across Canada. He can be reached at marty(dot)seto(at)
reflexmediasales.com or 416-907-6562, and on LinkedIn.

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