Christian Rudder, a co-founder and general manager of OkCupid, said that when his dating site recently bought and redesigned a smaller site, they witnessed not just a sharp decline in bots, but also a sudden 15 percent drop in use of the new site by real people. This decrease in traffic occurred, he maintains, because the flirtatious messages and automated “likes” that bots had been posting to members’ pages had imbued the former site with a false sense of intimacy and activity. “Love was in the air,” Mr. Rudder said. “Robot love.” Mr. Rudder added that his programmers are seeking to design their own bots that will flirt with invader bots, courting them into a special room, “a purgatory of sorts,” to talk to one another rather than fooling the humans.
Bezos’ involvement gives the Post potential. Now there’s a chance that something interesting is going to happen there; something that’s not just a repackaging of content or yet another paywall or some other half measure driven by desperation.
As I reported in a New Republicstory about the site [BuzzFeed] a year ago, its presence on social media, its clean layout, and its editorial philosophy of shearing most context from tidbits of news and giving readers just the thing itself—all make the site immaculately positioned to capitalize on the new news economy, in which readers increasingly find things like this video not by subscribing to or regularly visiting specific blogs or websites, but by happening upon independent articles shared via social media like Facebook, Reddit, and Twitter. Indeed, more than half of BuzzFeed’s pageviews have come from people clicking on links to the post that their friends shared on Facebook. (And don’t sleep on [BuzzFeed writer Andrew] Kaczynski’s headline—headlines being something that I would bet BuzzFeed spends a substantial amount of time thinking about. Kaczynski’s headline was, “Is This The Most Embarrassing Interview Fox News Has Ever Done?” Don’t you want to click and find out?) [Emphasis added.]
I remember playing Atari’s “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” as a kid. I was fortunate because my friend knew the ins and outs — how to avoid the wells, how to find phone pieces, how to get to the landing site, etc. I didn’t encounter the frustrations that caused many others to revile this game (nor did I realize E.T. game hate was so strong).
Today, in one of those serendipitous click trips (see the “via” segment, below), I was reintroduced to the E.T. game by way of this VHS-era tutorial:
I understand the frustration now. Marching E.T. through dull screens in search of pixellated doodads feels like an exceptional waste of time. And the sound. My God, the sound.
Yet, the thing I always enjoyed about this game is that it had an ending. That appealed to me much more than gathering points or setting a new high score (much of this is due to my complete incompetence as a gamer — I’m really quite horrible).
After reading through this Mashable piece, it’s clear that all of the FT’s paywall experience — and, importantly, all of its related data — has made the organization quite savvy. For example:
Looking through some of the reader data — the FT’s data team now numbers more than 30 across three groups — the FT was able to recognize the kinds of patterns readers display before purchasing subscriptions. “We would see the sort of articles they were reading and the frequency they were reading those articles, for instance, and we began to map those,” [CEO John] Ridding explains. “People do behave in predictable ways.”
“… the FT was able to recognize the kinds of patterns readers display before purchasing subscriptions.”
If you can get people where they’re thinking out loud and revealing things that they might not have thought about, but they’re so caught up by the engagement, that they feel a desire for themselves and for you to tell you about choices they made and experiences that shaped them, you always want to know, “What was it that made you who you are and enabled you to do what you do?”
“What was it that made you who you are and enabled you to do what you do?”
Native advertising is all the rage, but there’s still so much work to do, so many lessons to learn, and so many mistakes to make. That’s why I love this line from Adweek’s Charlie Warzel:
For native advertising to succeed, its practitioners need to be mindful that it’s not yet universally accepted, and traditionalists need to unmoor themselves from the idea that native is a corrosive practice that undermines great journalism and see that it could even be its savior.
Despite no longer having an organization or a job or maybe even a desk, former Boston Phoenix staff writer David S. Bernstein (@dbernstein) still managed to break the story that Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino would not run for another term (this is huge news in Boston — physicists have determined that Menino is the city’s Constant).