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Comscore August 2009: Digg Enters Top 5 Social Networks

Comscore Social Networks: August 2009

August 2009 Comscore data for unique US visitors to “social networking” sites. Graphic from USA Today.

Sharing Is Good, So Does It Matter With Whom You Share?

In yesterday’s Times, the Ping column discussed the rising importance to publishers of online sharing sites:

“social networks are now an important source of traffic to many sites, in some cases challenging search engines as the top source of new visitors. For example, the leading referrer to PerezHilton.com, a popular gossip site, is Facebook. Nearly 15 percent of the gossip site’s visitors come from the social network, according to Compete.com, a tracking firm. Google ranks second, driving about 9 percent of visitors.”

Perez is not alone. Twitter gets more traffic from Facebook than it does from Google. The top referring site to Fred Wilson’s AVC is Twitter, and for some sections of PC Mag it’s Digg. (More on that here.)

The column’s graphic, though, makes a different point. It’s the artist’s interpretation of where those “share” buttons are headed. If s/he is right, we’ll soon see web publishers recommending we “gossip to your barber,” “tell your shrink,” and “share with Santa Claus.” Given that your shrink and Santa Claus are less likely to get a link to your content in front of tens of millions of prospective readers, are you missing a high-impact opportunity by telling your readers to take a low-impact action? Are publishers already doing this, recommending dozens of sharing sites when only a few really matter?

Graphic: Share Buttons Gone Wrong

In 1993 AT&T Saw the Future, Just Not the Competition

It’s fun to watch these AT&T commercials from 1993, in which they do an excellent job of predicting the next decade and a half of technical innovation. What they didn’t see coming was Google, Apple, Skype, WebEx and whoever makes FastPass.

(Thanks, NOTCOT!

)

Time Spent with Social Media Triples, 2008 to 2009

We’re now spending 17% of our online time with social networking sites, up from 6% last August. From Read/Write Web:

“According to new figures from Nielsen, the amount of time spent surfing social networking and blogging sites had tripled since last year, suggesting ‘a wholesale change in the way the Internet is used,’ says Jon Gibs, VP of media and agency insights at the company’s online division….”

As a result:

“Even as companies decreased their overall ad expenditures, they increased their spend on top social networks and blogs — up 119% from last year. ($108 million in August 2009 up from $49 million in August 2008). And when broken down by category, the increases are even more dramatic. The entertainment industry, for example, has increased spending by 812% year-over-year on social network sites and the travel industry increased spending by 364%.”

(Thanks, Dave!

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Charging for News: Likely to Fail

Chart: Charging for News will Fail

Silicon Alley Insider’s Chart of the Day, based on recent Harris Interactive data.

Paying Journalists on Commission

For the past few years, journalists from traditional media have been shocked and horrified at every new model (or suggestion of a model) that would reward content creators based on pageviews or ratings or copies sold. The outrage! A vulgar popularity contest!

Seth Godin joined the fray this week by suggesting that everyone — journalists included — should be compensated on a commission basis, like salespeople. Godin’s readers know that he tends to exaggerate his points for effect, and I’m sure this week’s post is no exception. But the point (in some less hyperbolic iteration) is a very good one. If you look at pageviews or ratings or copies sold as measures of consumer satisfaction, rather than vulgar popularity contests, Godin’s suggestion makes sense, and isn’t actually that new. Doing a good job matters. Executives at media companies — the publishers, the presidents, the editors in chief, the directors of circulation — have always been evaluated based on that kind of “consumer satisfaction.” As readers flock to competitive publications, top brass at the shrinking-popularity publication lose their jobs. That’s why serious magazines often opt for sensational cover designs.

Time: Is God Dead 1966

Raw popularity, though, isn’t the best way to measure quality. Us Weekly will always be more popular than the New York Review of Books. But popularity among your universe of prospective readers — the wide net of people who like celebrities, or the narrow net of people who like literary books — is a fair measure of the quality of your organization’s work.

The tricky part is isolating the quality of one individual’s work from the organization as a whole. A great journalist teamed up with a lousy circulation person isn’t likely to hit his or her readership goals, just like a great salesperson who is teamed up with an incompetent ad operations person isn’t likely to collect his or her full commission, no matter how good s/he is at selling.

I love the commission model; it creates urgency and accountability — both of which are far more productive than whining about bloggers and the proliferation of free news on the internet. (Or newspaper bailouts, for crying out loud.) But let’s be sure any commission model for journalists is sophisticated enough to reward (or penalize) the results that journalists have control over.

Budweiser Print Ad from 1940

Bud Ad 1940

“Drink Budweiser for five days. On the sixth day try to drink a sweet beer. You will want Budweiser’s flavor thereafter.”

From Cognac.com.

Budweiser Leaderboard that Pours into a Skyscraper

I know this concept isn’t brand new (can anyone help me track down those Zippo lighter ads where the flame in one banner heats up the scene in the other?), but I love it every time I see it: Coordinated banner ads in which animation in one triggers animation in the other. In this case, a horizontal bottle of Budweiser American Ale pours itself into a waiting pint glass in a 300×600 unit.

Coordinated Banner Ads for Bud

Extra credit (in my book!) that Bud is running this campaign on Digg.

Digg Crushes Competition

That’s the headline for the Chart of the Day from yesterday, which maps audience size for the leading social news sites.

Digg Crushes Competition Chart from TBI

(Disclosure: I work for Digg.)

574 Clips Starring New Balance Shoes

New Balance posted hundreds of shoe vignettes at to promote its limited edition lines. Buy a pair and you get to “claim” one of these videos. I don’t totally get it, but I like it.

(Thanks, !)