Keeping up with media measurement

This post originally appeared on Dow Jones’ blog The Conversational Corporation.

Ethan Zuckerman proposes a new measurement of attention – the Kardashian:

The Kardashian is the amount of global attention Kim Kardashian commands across all media over the space of a day. In an ideal, frictionless universe, we’d determine a Kardashian by measuring the percentage of all broadcast media, conversations and thoughts dedicated to Kim Kardashian. In practical terms, we can approximate a Kardashian by using a tool like Google Insights for Search – compare a given search term to Kim Kardashian and you can discover how small a fraction of a Kardashian any given issue or cause merits.

As Zuckerman notes, Google Insights doesn’t work well for measuring Kardashians. It’s unclear whether Google’s scale is linear or logarithmic.
Factiva, on the other hand, is an ideal tool for measuring Kardashians. Last week, “Kardashian” was mentioned in 5,174 stories on Factiva. So, that week, 1.0 Kardashians would represent 5,174 stories about a topic.
How did some of last week’s other newsmakers fare?

  • Mark Zuckerberg, at the peak of his public attention, received a mere 3.6 Kardashians of attention last week.
  • JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, in a week when he lost billions of dollars, flashed across our consciousnesses with 1.5 Kardashians of attention.
  • Donna Summer had to die to achieve 2.1 Kardashians of attention in her final week. Last year, she averaged 85 milli-Kardashians of attention.

Of course, the value of a Kardashian changes, depending on coverage volume. Eventually, we’ll enter into a period of Kardashian hyperinflation, and we’ll all be overexposed.

Is online news registration working?

Online news registration may not be working [Thanks paidcontent!].
Among the reasons offered are that there’s a lot of false information being posted and people are sharing registrations. Some ten to twenty percent of registered email addresses are bad, and no one knows how much of the demogrpahic data is phony. But newspapers seem to think they need demographics to sell ads.

“Our view is that we need help from you: We’ve got to pay for what we do, we’ve got to convince advertisers into looking at us and tell them that these are the demographics we now know about our readers,” [Atlanta Journal-Constitution ombudsman Mike King] said. “The old standard — advertising geared to people who live in the areas we cover — doesn’t work anymore.”

But Google built the largest, fastest-growing advertising business on the Web without any demographics at all. And a huge chunk of that business is never touched by a sales person.
The other part of the justification is that it’s becoming more expensive to publish a newspaper on the Web. That’s weird. It should be getting cheaper.

Belden is the last to discover that cookie-counts are unreliable

Belden has released a study that says unique-user counts based on cookies are too high. Can this be news to anyone? I remember having this same conversation with my webmaster (remember webmasters?) back in 1995.

I’ve used cookies to count users on MediaSavvy, but I’ve never told anyone what this number is, or believed it myself.

Underlying dissatisfaction with this crude method of counting users is no doubt one of the many information issues that are driving news sites to user registration. While I’m unenthusiastic about registration as a method of gathering useless demographics, it does help create countable and measurable identities for users.

Perseus blog study shows the importance of choosing your sample

The Perseus blog survey that says two-thirds of blogs are inactive has gotten a lot of attention lately.

Cyberatlas does a good job of comparing Perseus’ study to The National Institute for Technology and Liberal Education (NITLE) Blog Census, which shows that two-thirds of blogs are active.

The big difference is that Perseus took the easy way out and only looked at hosted blogs, while NITLE took the trouble to gather a reasonable sample. It appears that NITLE has missed a lot of blogs that Perseus counted.

The two surveys’ blog counts are striking. NITLE measures 1.4 million and Perseus estimates that total is 4.1 million. In any event, the number of bloggers, active and otherwise, is in the millions.

There is some great information on the NITLE site that is worth checking out.

More demographic pointlessness tells us that the best click-through rates can be found in New Mexico, West Virginia, Arkansas, and Montana.

Top Five US States for Click-Through Rate
New Mexico 116
West Virgina 114
Arkansas 113
Montara 108
Wyoming 108

Source:, via

What is a marketer supposed to do with that information? Target his ads to the smallest, poorest states in the country? I’m trying to imagine why this information is useful. This is consistent with a quote on Digital Deliverance about how companies compulsively collect worthless information.

Don’t target your customers by where they live. Target them by what they do.

Newspapers' local Web markets are vulnerable

According to ComScore Media Metrix, monopoly newspaper penetration of their home markets ranges from 4% of Web users in Philadelphia to 16.6% in Atlanta. I left off a couple of nonmonopoly markets and the Washington Times from the bottom, and the more-than-local Washington Post from the top of the list.

Given that major metros typically have around much higher penetrations of their home markets — especially among Internet users — this is a pretty pathetic performance for a free product. Local newspaper sites have plenty of useful local information, yet they can’t muster 20% of their home markets.

The era of repurposed online newspapers must end if newspapers are going to defend themselves against smaller, hungrier rivals.

Online personals are advertising, not content

Online personals aren’t content. People don’t pay to read personals–they pay to post them. Or they buy access to a poster’s contact information.

Clay Shirky calls it communication. I’d call it advertising. But, I suppose paid communication is advertising, isn’t it?

Whatever you do call it, observers increasingly agree that the Online Publishers’ Association shouldn’t count it as paid content. The good news is that the OPA is finding a much more skeptical audience this year than in the past.

Their information is so good and so useful that it’s a shame to see them get use the same dopey definition of content. No doubt they will continue to do so as long as news outlets report their big market size number uncritically.

More skepticism about the OPA's definition of the content market

Vin Crosbie have taken on the Online Publishing Association’s hype and loose interpretation of the data in their latest online content sales report. Vin was the first to cry foul on the original OPA report’s fast-and-loose definition of “online content” last year.

Rafat Ali ridicules the following hopeful statement in the report: “While slowing growth is indicative of a maturing market, we may also be in the midst of a quiet period during which content providers are readying new premium paid services for an increasingly receptive public.” He also has come around to the conclusion that online dating services don’t belong in the online content market.

We need a new definition of online content sales.

The ITU suggests US broadband penetration is about half what it should be [Free Research]

With our per capita income, US broadband penetration should be about twice what it is. Take a look at the free executive summary [PDF] of the International Telecommunications Union’s Birth of Broadband report.

There’s a great graph (Figure 3 on page 9 of the executive summary) that shows we’re lagging behind the adoption curve that the rest of the world seems to be riding.

What forces are retarding the implementation of broadband in the US?. Clearly, it’s not content, as the copyright holders would have us believe. There’s more US-developed content than anything else on the Net.

The ITU believes the single most important driver of broadband penetration is competition. It makes you wonder why the FCC thinks eliminating competition is the best way to get the telco’s to deploy fiber optic networks.

OPA's demographic report shows the futility of demographics [Free Research]

The Online Publishers Association has released a demographic study that compares online content buyers to the Internet users as a whole.

Most of the data show that the demographic differences between content buyers and everyone else are meaningless. They’re the tiniest bit younger, a little more heavily represented among people with incomes over $100,000 (like buyers of everything else), and their households are smaller (probably because they’re younger).

The real difference is behavioral. Internet content buyers spend about twice as much time on the Net and view more than twice as many pages. And they’re a little more likely to have broadband service (about 60% versus 50% for all Internet users).

The most interesting fact is that they spent less on conventional ecommerce ($235/quarter vs. $315/quarter) than the average online buyer.

This data confirms my thesis that demographics are meaningless to Internet marketers. Internet content buyers look like everyone else on the Net. We should be looking at behavior.