How Might Ads Work in WebWorld? A Hint…

At the American Magazine Conference in San Francisco yesterday, Facebook’s chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg (who used to work at Google) said these interesting words about advertising, according to a report by Eric Sass in Media Daily News:

“….magazine Web sites and other online publications are in a different line of business from search, Sandberg acknowledged–one that has yet to be effectively monetized. “Where online has been successful is the monetization of search: people know what they’re looking for, they look, they buy, and you can trace what everyone does from that first click to the last. That’s demand fulfillment. What hasn’t been figured out is demand generation.”

Social network sites and magazine sites are ideal candidates for demand generation, Sandberg said, but success depends entirely on the advertising model: “I’m excited about a lot of the content online, because where people spend their time online is the logical place to advertise. The way we’re thinking about monetization is–we’ll look at what people do on our site, and have advertising that is part of the experience.” Here she warned that “interruptive advertising is hard. A better model is advertising that’s integrated into the experience.”

Another way of thinking about this is that advertisers are part of a news/information/social network’s  community, and their information is integrated into the content that the community shares. Often, their information is more valuable than traditional journalism. Depends on what the beholder needs at the moment, eh?

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Of News Branding and a Journalism Mensch

Last week NPR Science Editor Anne Gudenkauf and I were chatting about journalism’s future. The occasion was the first week of NPR’s third pilot workshop/immersion into Webcentric journalism. Most of the science desk is taking time off from their regular duties for five weeks. [I wish other mainstream jurno organizations would take such an organized and committed approach. It might be difficult, but there’s no other sustainable way to move gracefully into the Medium Taking Over the World.] As associate faculty at Knight Digital Media Center at UC Berkeley, I’m helping out with NPR’s transition into Web-world. [Here’s an AJR article about the project.] And as a fellow at the Reynolds Journalism Institute at the University of Missouri School of Journalism, I’m focusing on how to ensure the future of journalism.

To the point of this post: I told Anne it seemed as though journalism — the word, the value and understanding of its role in democracy — was lost. Two events prompted that statement. First, when I asked a group of Stanford University sophomores if journalism had ever affected their lives, they said no, although they said they did tune into news, via friends and certain Web sites. Two, the bashing of the “media elite” at the recent Republican convention — without a mention of the role of journalism in a nation where freedoms are so valued — seemed a bit contradictory.

Anne’s response: Perhaps news-organization branding is obfuscating journalism? That’s a bingo. People tar Continue reading