At the beginning of a panel focusing on content at this year’s Ad:Tech, one statistic popped out among the rest: a full 76% of online users surveyed said they would appreciate the aid of a professional editor to help guide them to quality web content.
Editors as Curators or "content contextualizers" …
Vivian Schiller, Senior VP and General Manager, NY Times.com, commented that the role of the online editor is changing from someone who curates the content of his/her particular vehicle to curating all of the content on the web that is of interest to his audience and making that content readily accessible. “Sure, they’ll be lead away from your site, but if handled correctly, this approach will engender loyalty among readers. And they’ll come back,” Schiller told the audience. Schiller revealed that the NY Times.com is launching a new feature next month called Times Extra, where the user can toggle on NY Times homepage to show related articles, even from competitors such as the WSJ. Schiller said that the company sees itself as a top content provider, but is not naïve enough to think they are the only ones providing quality content. As such, they will strive to serve readers by providing guidance on where to go for complementary info to NY Times content.
..soo information is not just a commodity….
BusinessWeek Editor in Chief John Byrne made the point that information online has become increasingly commoditized: “There is too much content, too few eyeballs and not enough time to digest the info,” he told the crowd at Ad:tech. Byrne then enumerated a number of observations his company has made that has shaped their approach to content delivery:
1. There is an overabundance of information Online.
2. People have preference for multiple sources of news.
3. People who share interests have an affinity for forming micro-communities based on those interests.
4. Professional needs are fairly narrow.
The magazine recently launched a product it calls Business Exchange, wherein the user specifies which topic is most relevant to him/her. A search engine goes out and populates the user’s account with articles sourced from all over the Web. In addition, virtual communities are formed around shared areas of interest.
….complemented by voyeuristic elements….
"One of the cool things is the voyeuristic element of it," says Byrnes. “You can see exactly what other users in the community are looking at. “ The effect is that the community becomes versed in the same subject matter, and meaningful insights are gleaned and shared.
Users can also form topics on which other users can expound, creating a running conversation on the site and fostering a strong affinity with the site, and favorably affecting the user’s perception of the site’s advertisers, according to Byrnes: “The advantage is that you can target your audience organically instead of through behavioral targeting, leading to higher click-throughs and engagement levels.”
Betsy Morgan, CEO of the highly popular political/general interest site Huffington Post, says, “All of our content is curated to meet our reader’s interests. That’s what we do. “She points to a site feature they call the “Big News Page”, a virtual clearing-house of the most relevant information pertaining to a given topic. The Big News Page for a given presidential candidate, for instance, would include continuously refreshed content on the campaign.
….but advertisers prefer source sites as opposed to blog sites.
Robin Steinberg, Senior VP, Director of Print Investment and Activations for MediaVest noted that: “Trusted and verified content is very important to us, but it is not all created equally. There are different values that we can assign to different sites.” Steinberg noted that advertisers generally prefer “Source sites,” as opposed to blog sites that link out to other sites. At the same time, she says advertisers are becoming increasingly attracted to these manacled news sites, particularly as many magazine websites have failed to adequately engage their audience online, while these multi-source sites have been extremely successful in this regard.
Moderator Pam Horan said that the idea that social networks are untested grounds for advertising misses the greater significance of the opportunity they offer advertisers to connect with the user in a creative way, as in the Ben & Jerry’s and Starbucks election day promotions on Facebook, which were relevant, timely, and tapped into a passion point for huge swathes of consumers.