Sunday, July 30, 2006

Google's mobile traffic reports

Ross Dawson pointed out to me the other day that Google have just released live traffic maps for mobile phones in the US. The system allows mobile phone users to chose a destination within Google Maps and select "show traffic". Road conditions are highlighted in three colors: red for congested, yellow or orange for slowdowns, and green for a clear run.

It's a great idea - one many news sites would love to be have been the first to do effectively ... But then along comes Google.

The problem for Australia, though, is not just the reporting mechanisms needed to do this, but the cost of mobile data transfer. You might love the idea of getting the fastest route out of a peak hour jam, but if you live in Sydney your mobile phone bill would be through the roof very quickly.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

From Sydney to San Francisco

Here are some blog posts from yesterday's Future Of Media conference. There'll be video streams available tomorrow, apparently.

Also, BANGitUP TV blogged the event from Sydney and JD Lasica in San Francisco.

It was a very interesting day, though the short time frame and the nature of the topics meant that it was necessarily compressed. A number of sessions could have rolled on extensively.

The live video cross to San Francisco was something of a highlight - cross continental participants included Chris Anderson, Craig Newmark and Moira Gunn. Locally, Ian Gardiner, Ben Barron, Jack Matthews and others provided Australian perspectives.

It certainly showed a good model for conference video link ups.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Future of Media conference

I'm chairing a panel at the Future of Media Summit this week and will have the pleasure of talking with Ian Gardner, Ross Gibson and Ben Barron about content creation - who's going to make it (and how), who's going to consume it and who's likely to pay for it.

Also taking part via teleconference from San Francisco will be Chris Anderson, Craig Newmark and David Sifry. Should be a fascinating day.

Ross Dawson from the Future Exploration Network has posted pre-conference podcast interviews with some of the participants, as well as the Future of Media Report 2006 summarising many of the trends across media useage and production, including amongst other things:

Global media market highlights and comparisons
Emerging media relationships
Content creation and usage
Media industry networks
Future of Media Strategic Framework
Five ideas transforming media

Monday, July 03, 2006

Lars Rasmussen

The man who invented Google maps - not quite singlehandedly - spoke at a Sydney pub the other night about mashups and APIs and Ajax and other good things.

Here's the MP3. I managed to get most of his talk ... before the batteries in the recorder died.


Originally uploaded by Hugh Martin.
This is the Ukraine Hotel where I stayed during the Moscow conference. It's directly across the Moscow River from the Russian Parliament and has a wonderfully gothic high-Soviet style design (looks like something out of a Tim Burton movie). It's one of the Seven Sisters built by Stalin as his answer to the modernist boom in the US between the wars. It reeks of cigarette smoke with the shades of old KGB and politburo spooks on every floor. And it has a great view through the smog from the platform beneath the spire on the 30th floor.

Here are some more photos from the Moscow trip, including a bunch from Cathedral Square in the Kremlin.

Moscow WEF

This poor blog is getting more and more part-time ... but hey, it's still good for occasional media stuff.

I used to like reading Simon Waldman's blog for that reason, but I've noticed he's moved to a new system and put a redirect on his old archives so you get a fleeting glimpse of the old "work stuff" that he says he's got bored writing about before being passed straight to his new site. Bit of a tease, really. He might have become bored with it - frankly, I don't know how he found the time to write that much anyway - but it was an interesting insight into the thinking of a senior new media guy. His explanation is that "What started out as exploration and half-baked ideas in the blogosphere have now become standard fodder for every media exec in town".

Oh well, fair enough.

Anyway, I was in Moscow in early June for the WEF sessions which, to be honest, had some of what Waldman would have hated, but a lot of other very interesting stuff around current strategies for newspapers online.

Here are some tidbits:

  • Search engine referrals to the have increased 71 per cent in the last 12 months. SEO is a major tactical play for them, according to GM Vivan Schiller. She was cagey about the execution, not surprisingly.
  • Traffic to has increased from 16 million UVs a month to 25 million UVs a month over the last 12-18 months. They put this down to their page redesign, a new video player, better organisation of print and online newsrooms allowing more responsive publishing, and better integration and treatment of verticals - travel, entertainment, real estate etc. They've reorganised the reporting structure on the site and appointed John Landman, former metro editor, as overall boss. The editor now reports to him and this has allowed better communications and relations between print and online.
  • Both and are introducing personalisation. in the next month, in the next couple of months. There were no details on cost. It's taken about a year to set up and they've ( been running a limited trial for the last few months. The launch will be in beta form, a first for them. It's fully based on their rss feeds, and the expected benefit is wholly around extending time spent on the site.
  • A big difference between the two sites is that the don't really care about UGC, whereas it's a big focus for According to Vivian Schiller: "The web is increasingly filled with a lot of user generated content - there's certainly nothing wrong with that - but often that user generated content is unfiltered and it's uninformed"., on the other hand, is looking closely at Web 2.0 strategies.
  • Vorarlberger Medienhaus (Austria) has been successfully experimenting with reverse publishing wire news headlines in its regional papers. The logic is that the newspaper is a perfect browsing mechanism and the web provides the depth. So they run (sometimes) hundred of headlines in dedicated sections of their world pages with pointers to the web for the full story. for local news they encourage readers to generate story ideas for the paper through the web site.
On the surface this logic appears contrary to received wisdom, but their argument is that readers can get a quick and easy scan of the headlines and then decide they want to read more on the site. So they run (sometimes) hundred of headlines in dedicated sections of their world pages with pointers to the web for the full story. For local news readers are generating story ideas for the paper through the web site.

They are selling more newspapers and getting more traffic to the web site as a result. And they say the timeliness issue is no more a concern than running full wire copy in the paper already is, but because they save space by compressing to headlines they then have more room for reader generated stories and local issues.

  • Canada's Globe and Mail web site has had a 30 per cent increase in UVs since it added a comment function on the bottom of each article.
  • Yahoo! news currently has no way of verifying authenticity of user generated content. The BBC is trying, but theirs is a very manual process. Steve Hermann e-i-c of News interactive at the BBC spoke about how they are doing this.
  • The Norwegian paper Dagbladet gets 1.6 million UVs a week from a population of less than 5 million (helluva reach). They attribute this success to their portal strategy (visually illustrated in presentation).
There was also a bit of media activity through the WEF blog and related vlog with various participant interviews, including one with yours truly.