web watch

The Mother of Virality: From Cat Memes to Politics, BuzzFeed is an Unstoppable Force

Posted by Sheila Shayon on December 5, 2013 04:43 PM

BuzzFeed, arguably the king of viral content on the web is projecting 2014 revenue to be as high as $120 million, according to Ad Age, as it now ranks among the top news sites with traffic more than four times last year, reaching 130 million-plus unique visitors in November.

Started in 2006 by Huffington Post co-founder Jonah Peretti, BuzzFeed is the gold standard of headlines and cat memes in a world on digital overload. Peretti’s original intent was an engine for viral content chosen primarily by algorithms, but today, his company has amassed an impressive and well-credentialed editorial staff and is moving into creating original video. 

The record-setting spike in BuzzFeed’s November traffic is due in part to Facebook’s change in algorithm that brings more of its stories to user’s news feeds, but Twitter referral traffic has also surged with 180 percent growth in the past year. Buzzfeed’s YouTube channel reached 110 million views globally in November, and the site’s global unique user numbers are up 350 percent year-on-year.Continue reading...

game change

Book Vending Machine Gives New Meaning to Self-Publishing

Posted by Mark J. Miller on November 26, 2013 01:41 PM

For those that still prefer to buy their books in print-form, retailer Books-A-Million has debuted a new way for consumers to get their paperback fix: a book vending machine. 

Dubbed the Espresso Book Machine (though it doesn't serve up any caffeinated drinks), it can print out any of nearly seven million titles between 5”x5” and 8”x10” and ranging from 50 to 600 pages. One unique feature, though, is the self-publishing options. Consumers and aspiring writers can upload their digital reams of short stories, novels, family histories and images to the machine that can be arranged and printed on the spot.Continue reading...


Hallmark Tests Customized Concept Store to Revive Relevance in Digital Market

Posted by Mark J. Miller on November 20, 2013 01:54 PM

Along with printed newspapers and books, greeting cards have been put on deathwatch for some time now due to the rise of digital communications via email, text and online greetings. But Hallmark, the biggest of them all, is fighting back. 

The company has opened a new concept store in Kansas City, Mo., to test out new products and retail experiences that will keep the print brand relevant after a decade that saw the greeting card business fall 60 percent, Time reports. The brand has even opted to drop its full name, choosing to mark the store with "HMK."

What HMK is mostly pushing is customization. According to the Kansas City Star, consumers can buy cards, books, and cutting boards, among other things, that are customized. Plus, there are warm cookies when customers enter.

“We wanted to get credit for doing something buzzworthy,” Jack Moore, Hallmark Gold Crown president, told the Star. “We wanted our brand to feel younger and more exciting to today’s shoppers. We want the consumer to say, ‘Wow. This is different. This store will help me create the perfect, personalized gift that is not available anywhere else.’”Continue reading...

ad watch

FTC to Convene Panel as Native Advertising Augments

Posted by Sheila Shayon on November 19, 2013 05:40 PM

If you're still confused about what native advertising really is, you're not alone. In fact, the general topic has become such a great concern that the Federal Trade Commission is convening a workshop on Dec. 4 to hopefully clear up the blurred lines between editorial and ad content that is increasingly confusing consumers.

Native advertising, a.k.a. blended advertising, branded or sponsored content, “is a type of converged media that combines paid and owned content into commercial messaging that is fully integrated into, and often unique to, a special delivery platform,” as defined by the Altimeter Group

Key to the ongoing conversation is what publishers and ad companies must do to make sure consumers can spot the differences between different types of content. The new approach to advertising is used by practically every web publisher in some form, from brand partner stories on BuzzFeed to sponsored posts on Facebook.

Registered workshop participants include representatives from such brands, as well as NPR’s Bob Garfield, former dean of Columbia Journalism School Nick Lemann, ad-tech companies like Outbrain and Sharethrough, and executives from The Huffington Post, Edelman, and Procter & Gamble, among others.Continue reading...

media brands

96-Year-Old Forbes Media Heads to the Auction Block

Posted by Sheila Shayon on November 18, 2013 01:47 PM

Forbes Media is the latest victim of a dying print industry.

Perhaps best known for ranking wealthy individuals worldwide, Forbes is on the block for an estimated $400 million to $500 million in a sale being handled by Deutsche Bank. Former Republican presidential candidate Steve Forbes, who serves as editor-in-chief told employees on Friday that they’d received numerous inquiries about a sale. 

The venerable, 96-year-old brand, founded by financial newspaper columnist B.C. Forbes in 1917, has been confronted by declining ad sales and dwindling profits as print-based media brands struggle to transform content, platform and purpose in a world wired 24/7.

B.C. Forbes was succeeded by his son, Malcolm, who was known for his expensive tastes including hot air balloons, Faberge eggs, Victorian art, real-estate and a motorcycle collection—all of which was sold off along the way, including Forbes’ longtime headquarters, which was sold to New York University in 2010. Forbes began making changes to its privately-held structure in 2006 to augment its digital presence by selling a 45 percent stake to Elevation Partners, the private equity firm co-founded and backed by U2 frontman Bono and Roger McNamee for close to $240 million.Continue reading...

digital moves

Brides Serves Up Authentic Experience with Digital Scanner

Posted by Sheila Shayon on November 7, 2013 10:41 AM

A major downside of the Internet is the escalation of selling and buying counterfeit goods, with $250 billion lost annually in the US to sales of faux items, according to Accessories Magazine

The design and fashion industries have been hardest hit, with the bridal industry alone losing hundreds of millions of dollars with close to 600,000 fake wedding gowns bought online each year, the New York Times notes, but one brand, Brides Magazine, hopes to change that. The 79-year-old publication is doing its best to combat slowing print sales by full-on embracing digital, and with that, some industry-saving upgrades to its Wedding Genius app. 

The 'Brides Against Counterfeiting' feature allows users to scan a website of a retailer or manufacturer to view an AuthentiGuard Prism—an embedded code that verifies an authorized retailer. 

"This initiative will also protect our advertisers by pinpointing and reporting counterfeiters who are illegally marketing brand names online," Brides vice president and publisher Michelle Myers told Ad Age.Continue reading...

digital moves

Publishing Head Larry Kirshbaum's Exit from Amazon May Be a Good Sign for Paperbacks

Posted by Sheila Shayon on November 1, 2013 12:43 PM

Amazon has been making headlines a lot lately, mostly for new, exciting ventures like charitable e-commerce site AmazonSmile, new, original programming for Amazon Instant Video and it's futuristic new headquarters. But this week the company hit an uncharacteristic speed bump. 

Larry Kirshbaum, previously the head of Time Warner Book Group and head of Amazon’s New York and Seattle adult and children's publishing imprints, announced his exit from the e-publishing giant—a move that also signifies Amazon's efforts to scale-back its publishing operations, according to a report from Shelf Awareness. Amazon’s publishing performance, at first perceived as a full-scale assault on the industry, has not panned out as planned, despite initially signing top authors like Timothy Ferriss (“The Four-Hour Chef”), Penny Marshall (“My Mother Was Nuts”) and Billy Ray Cyrus (“Hillbilly Heart”).

“There’s a lot of fallout to parse here, but it’s worth noting the beating that even a company like Amazon can suffer when engaging in disruptive entrepreneurship," Slate notes. “In 2012, Barnes & Noble announced it wouldn’t sell books published by Amazon. After that announcement, indie booksellers followed suit.” Even more traditional retailers like Walmart and Target chose to not stock Amazon-published books.Continue reading...

end of an era

The Devil Waves Bye-Bye: Condé Nast Kills Internships as 'Unpaid' Debate Goes Global

Posted by Sheila Shayon on October 24, 2013 11:07 AM

Interns take heart—the era of your unpaid servitude may be over, but so may be your job prospects. 

Following multiple lawsuits and a global debate on the ethics of unpaid labor in the name of "experience," Condé Nast, the publisher of such leading glossies including Vogue, Vanity Fair and GQ, announced that it is abolishing its internship program starting next year. Over the summer, two former interns, one with W magazine and the other with The New Yorker, filed lawsuits claiming they were paid below minimum wage. 

It's yet to be seen whether other companies will follow suit, but there's no doubt that others will be looking to dodge the bad headlines and nightmarish PR spin that Conde and others, like Hearst, have had to endure in the last few years.Continue reading...

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