I’ll never forget the day several years ago when Google AdSense first appeared on nzherald.co.nz.
One of our news stories that day was about a near-fatal shark attack in Australia. As soon as we switched on AdSense, pages carrying the shark attack story sprouted ads for cage-diving operators offering “swim with the sharks” experiences. If memory serves, we asked Google to bar those ads for a few days, and hoped we hadn’t offended too many readers.
You’ve probably seen or heard about other examples of bizarre and inappropriate context-based advertising.
One recent case involves the British website GoneTooSoon.co.uk, where people post condolence messages. Everything was going fine, until the webmaster decided he needed to earn some money and installed AdSense.
The tribute page for someone killed in a motorcycle accident began carrying ads for motorcycles. Even more offensive was an ad spotted by a user of the site, who wrote:
“Can you really trust a site which posts an advert of [the murderer] Ian Huntley’s biography – not only on my beautiful friend Ian’s site, but on a website that also has a memorial for [Huntley’s victims] Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman?”
This is big news downunder. In addition to the Australian assets mentioned in the following story, PBL’s ninemsn.com.au is a partner with Microsoft in New Zealand web portal msn.co.nz, and its ACP Media is the largest magazine publisher in New Zealand.
Double-click the > arrow at top of story to read more.
It’s always fun (well, I think so, at least) to compare web traffic stats. Today I was having a look at the top sites identified by Hitwise for the United States and New Zealand. (Unfortunately Hitwise doesn’t report Canadian data.)
First off, it’s important to note that the data refer to market share (expressed as a percentage) of all visits to sites by users based in the specified country. That’s not the way most websites report their rankings, which are more often based on page impressions or unique (unrepeated) visitors during a period. Moreover, the Hitwise data are extrapolations based on samples obtained from co-operating ISPs in the specific countries, not actual counts.
OK, now to the comparison. A few things I found noteworthy:
No news website appears in the US top 15. But two (nzherald and stuff) appear on the NZ list. Yes, Kiwis are always on the lookout for news (especially if it’s about rugby). 😉
Auction site eBay is number 8 on the US list. But home-grown auction site Trade Me is number 3 in NZ. In fact, more than a quarter of all New Zealanders are registered members of Trade Me, which was sold last year to publishing group Fairfax for NZ$700 million. Now that’s a success story. I find it much nicer to use than eBay and just wish they’d expand out of the Antipodes.
In the US, the social networking action is on MySpace and, increasingly, Facebook. In NZ, British-based Bebo dominates. A Silicon Valley rumour has Yahoo looking at buying Bebo for around US$1 billion.
YouTube and Wikipedia are popular in both countries. (At least the kids are doing their homework while they watch videos?)
In both countries, web traffic is dominated by search and email.
Outsourcing to reduce labour costs has caught on in many industries, and it’s happening in journalism too.
The latest example is pasadenanow.com, where editor and publisher James Macpherson is recruiting a journalist based in India to cover local politics in California. The reporter will be expected to watch council meetings online and conduct interviews by phone or email.
“Nobody in their right mind would trust the reporting of people who not only don’t know the institutions but aren’t even there to witness the events and nuances,” said Bryce Nelson, a University of Southern California journalism professor and Pasadena resident. “This is a truly sad picture of what American journalism could become.”
It is a shaky business proposition as well, said Uday Karmarkar, a UCLA professor of technology and strategy who outsources copy editing and graphics work to Indian businesses. If the goal is sophisticated reporting, he said, Macpherson could end up spending more time editing than the labor savings are worth.
But Macpherson isn’t the only one cutting costs through outsourcing.
The editors who run US news website reuters.com and British site reuters.co.uk sit at desks in Toronto, where Reuters takes advantage of lower pay rates for Canadian journalists.
And New Zealand Herald publisher APN plans to have most of its newspaper pages, for the Herald and smaller papers around the country, edited by another company. Although the work will still be done in New Zealand (and the contracting company will have to set up a new operation to do it), it is expected to cost less than having the work done in-house. About 70 APN staff will lose their jobs.
>> More on outsourcing journalism jobs to India and to China
Think New Zealand, think great lifestyle. Fittingly, this week’s chart from Nielsen//NetRatings highlights the country’s most popular NZ-based Lifestyle sites according to total unique users during April.
Top of the list is social networking site oldfriends.co.nz, part of the Trade Me group purchased last year by newspaper publisher Fairfax. Most of the others on the list are publishing or e-commerce sites.
But coming in at number 10 is a blog, spareroom.co.nz. Nice to see Ana Samways and Steven Shaw’s professional but quirky creation continuing to grow, and apparently being well-supported by display advertising.
More than one in three Danes and Dutch have a broadband account. Five other European countries and Korea are close behind, according to data released yesterday by the OECD.
The number of broadband subscribers in OECD countries increased 26 per cent from 157 million in December 2005 to 197 million in December 2006.
This growth increased broadband penetration rates in the OECD from 13.5 per 100 inhabitants in December 2005 to 16.9 subscriptions per 100 inhabitants one year later.
Topping the list was Denmark with 31.9, closely followed by the Netherlands at 31.8. Canada was in ninth place with a rate of 23.8, up from 21.0 last year. The USA was 15th with a rate of 19.6, up from 16.3. New Zealand was 21st, surging to 14.0 from 8.1.