Peter Meng's Sunday Classifieds

By Peter Meng on January 15, 2012 1 Comment Ideas

The Sunday Classifieds is a way for me to share with you what I find most interesting in the week in regards to newspapers, advertising, and classifieds. Here's what caught my eye this week.

Can 1,400 Dailies Die in 5 Years? Yes

The Annenberg School at the University of Southern California created a stir last week with its prediction that only four US daily newspapers will still be in print in five years. “We believe that the only print newspapers that will survive will be at the extremes of the medium – the largest and the smallest,” said Jeffery I. Cole, the school’s director of the Center for the Digital Future. “It’s likely that only four major daily newspapers will continue in print form: The New York Times, USA Today, the Washington Post, and the Wall Street Journal. At the other extreme, local weekly newspapers may still survive.” Read more

My thoughts: If they define print as "paper" then I agree. In fact the technology adoption curve of the last 50 + years dictates that they literally cannot afford to be in business in 8 years. The only true papers remaining will be "boutique" papers for true (and rich) luddites. More to come about this in the future.

5 rules to successfully transition classified sections

Classified sections have traditionally been ignored by editorial teams. Those pages and pages (and pages) of lovely line advertising and display classifieds were rivers of gold that poured into newspaper companies without any need of editorial love. Motoring, real estate, jobs — while our readers may have enjoyed perusing the marketplace, to most news teams they were a distraction to the main game of politics, sport, crime, city news, and even the arts, where the real journalism happened. Read more

Quick thoughts on each of these 5 "rules":

  1. Search is not enough! Need to start thinking "smart search". Smart search finds similar and alternative items as well.
  2. How many buyers want limited choices and few alternatives from their classifieds. In the classifieds section shouldn't the classifieds be first?
  3. What would happen if you moved some of your classifieds to topical editorial sections? Is that possible?
  4. You could dramatically increase the number of available classified ads to create broader interest and appeal? But how would you do that?
  5. What if you added actual "learning modules" to your classifieds teaching people how to find, select and buy the best product to meet their needs?

Wearing Our Computers on Our Sleeves

It's natural to imagine our computers as devices that have screens and some sort of keyboard input, real or virtual.

Those two design elements constrain the device's form factor because the screens need to be big enough for us to see and the keyboards must make room for our fingers or thumbs. But a number of technological hurdles are being overcome that will, in the coming year, dramatically alter the shape of our computing and communication devices. We are about to enter the world of wearable computing.

Before the end of 2012 many of us will be sporting bracelets, watches, fobs and other fashion doodads that will send us messages or convey data to our phones, computers and the Internet. Read more

My Thoughts: So I'm cleaning out the garage and I find some still boxed roller-blades. I tap my watch and say - "Sell on AdFreeq one pair mens size 11 Rollerblades. Mint condition. Best offer. Have buyers contact my public account." My phone - responds "Item posted." 30 minutes later my phone vibrates. I tap it. "It says you have an offer for your Rollerblades for $5.00. Would you like to accept?" Yeeha!

Facebook Helps Paid Posts Float To Top Of Feeds

Facebook users often are left wondering at the robotic reasoning behind the choice of highlighted stories at the top of their news feed, but at least most of them get there because they are attracting a lot of interest, or comments, or shares. Now, Facebook users also will have to watch out for posts that float to the top because an advertiser paid to place them there. Read more

My thoughts: I find this extremely annoying and a slippery slope. Thoughts?

Patch Business Model Flounders

We’ve posted several positive items about the local Patch operation in our community, a one-person news bureau that has become our favorite – and most timely – source of information about local events. So we feel it’s also important to share the news that AOL’s Patch operation, a constellation of more than 800 hyperlocal news sites, looks like a train wreck.

Tim Armstrong, AOLBusiness Inside says Patch has generated only about $8 million in revenue in 2011 on an investment of more than $160 million. InvestorPlace says revenues were closer to $20 million, but that Patch still lost $150 million on the year. Some investors are calling for the head of Tim Armstrong the former Google executive who took the helm at AOL nearly three years ago. Armstrong conceived of Patch in 2007 and funded the first two years of its operations before assuming the top job at AOL in 2009 and buying Patch outright. Since then he’s embarked upon an aggressive expansion program to place hyperlocal news bureaus in as many US locations as possible. He’s also spent lavishly on the acquisitions of Huffington Post and TechCrunch. At this point, critics are calling the strategy a bust. Read more

My thoughts: Some people love Patch and others hate it. (Personally, I think the product is interesting and the name is silly). Why can't they seem to generate hyperlocal ad revenue to match their news. Very few local ads - and their classifieds are nominal. Thoughts?

Next-generation sharing economies: why real-time matters most

As it matures, the driving force of the sharing economy will become time, and the companies that can do business in real-time will occupy a more strategic, and profitable, place in the ecosystem.

Fresh off its $1 billion valuation, Airbnb is the most common reference point for all manner of “this for that” pitches bouncing around the Valley right now, with many new ventures proposing to be the “the Airbnb of X.”

But Airbnb is only one species of the sharing economy genus — a genus that will stratify over the next few quarters. Read more

My thoughts: How important is "real-time" in finding information you need? If you could get real-time updates for something your looking for in the classifieds - would that be useful?

A word of praise for messy innovation

Innovation can be messy. In fact, I'd go so far as to say innovation should be messy, if you want real progress.

In a piece of shallow pageview-trolling that's typical of tech "journalism," PC magazine is likening Google Chrome to Internet Explorer 6 (Satan's Web browser) because it's doing things other browsers can not, as yet, do.

Standards committees are great for cleaning up messes. They're not so good for innovation. HTML5, which is a great leap forward, is the result of a lot of very messy innovation including, along the way, many mistakes and blind alleys. Read more

My thoughts: "A pottery class was split in two. One group was given access to books and resources about pottery theory and instructed to think through the process and make one great pot. The other was given a big pile of mud and instructed to make as many pots as they wanted. Guess which one wound up with the best product?" Yeeha!

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Comments

But you all need copy editors

Annenberg report mentions "the average ago" of readers...

Meng's intro sentence: "The Sunday Classifies is a way ..."

On paper or onscreen, such sloppiness loses readers.

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