The Economist’s video strategy shifts focus to YouTube

The Economist Films division gets most of its views on Facebook, but like other publishers, it’s turning its attention to YouTube, where audiences tend to be more loyal and engaged than on Facebook. The 20-plus person division began in mid-2015 with a focus on long-form series, like entrepreneur-focused “The Hub,” backed by Santander, and “The World in 2018,” supported by Thomson Reuters. This year, The Economist also started releasing three editorial videos a week, lasting under five minutes, like this on the gender pay gap or this on foreign aid distribution. Continue reading “The Economist’s video strategy shifts focus to YouTube”

Facebook defends itself against social media critics

(Reuters) — Facebook Inc on Friday struck back against scientific researchers and tech industry insiders who have criticized the world’s biggest social media network and its competitors for transforming how people behave and express emotion. Facebook, in a corporate blog post, said that social media can be good for people’s well-being if they use the technology in a way that is active, such as messaging with friends, rather than passive, such as scrolling through a feed of other people’s posts. It was the second time this week that Facebook had published such a rebuttal, signaling a new willingness to defend a business model that translates users’ attention into advertising revenue. Continue reading “Facebook defends itself against social media critics”

15-second countdown ads could be the new killer format

Luxury Italian retailer Yoox has announced it is running an exciting new type of pre-roll ad on YouTube: 15-second buy-it-or-lose-it offers. The company will be runnign the ads until mid-December in a few regions globally.

The ads are 15-second countdowns featuring a unique product, so. The user has to make a decision to buy on the spot or they will lose out and the item will be offered to someone else. Even if they go looking for it later, they won’t be able to find the product on the Yoox website, as it will have been exclusive to the pre-roll ad. To add to the tension, the creative depicts impending threats to the product to bring the countdown to life, so the ad positions the item as needing “saving” from dangers such as laser beams creeping towards it.

Continue reading “15-second countdown ads could be the new killer format”

Univision is making original shows for YouTube

Like most publishers in search of social audiences, Univision has its fingers in many platforms, including Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat. But to reach younger, search-driven audiences, it’s putting a big focus on YouTube.

In the past month, Univision has launched its first two original shows for YouTube, and it hopes to release more. One is a daily entertainment show called “¿Qué crees?” (“What do you think?”) that usually runs between one and two minutes per episode. The other, “La Polémica” (“The Controversy”), on Mexican soccer, airs every few days and lasts between three and four minutes per episode. Continue reading “Univision is making original shows for YouTube”

How Google and Amazon are hooking kids from an early age

Google announced a notable update to YouTube Kids this week, one that gives parents a range of tools to tailor the app for their kids. Among the new features is one that lets parents create individual profiles for each of their offspring. They can set each kid up with their own passcode to keep siblings out — though parents can override it — and the general design now reflects the child’s age. This revamp is the latest in a line of recent initiatives from big tech firms as they double down on efforts to suck kids into their ecosystems.

Continue reading “How Google and Amazon are hooking kids from an early age”

Who Sets the Agenda in the Internet Age?



Fragmentation: Multiple channels and sources allow individuals to create their own, personalised agenda.

Media agenda-setting theory assumes the public receive news from a limited set of sources and that this encourages a shared agenda. In the digital age, however, there are now multiple channels and sources, allowing individuals to construct their own, personalised agenda.

The growing number of information channels, each with fewer readers, is dividing audiences.

Increasing fragmentation has been compounded by the way individuals access news: as the number of news sources increases, audiences use technologies to filter and customise access to information, according to personal likes and interests.

So, who sets the agenda in the digital age? The audience or the media?

The audience….?

Just over 20 years ago, Nicholas Negroponte, MIT Media Lab founder, suggested the concept of ‘Daily Me’: a computer screen with news and a button that, like a volume control, would allow the user to increase or decrease personalisation. Other controls could include a slider that moves both literally and politically from left to right to modify stories about public affairs.

The same idea gives the critical tone to the recent 2.0, a book in which Cass R. Sunstein assumes that technology has greatly increased people’s ability to ‘filter’ what they want to read, see and hear.

With the help of the internet, we are able to design our own newspapers and magazines. We can make our own schedule, featuring the movies, games, sports, shopping and news programmes of our choice. We mix and match. When the power to filter is unlimited, people can decide, in advance and with perfect precision, what they will and will not find.

Many examples demonstrate that the media market follows this direction.

Digital newspapers encourage levels of personalisation that result in the creation of the reader’s own, individualised version of the newspaper, with the promise that it will contain exactly what concerns him and exclude everything that does not.

Other applications enable sites to automatically display information which, based on observation of the user’s previous habits, seems to be the most relevant. The same logic goes through television recording devices or radio subscription systems in RSS – the idea of control and personalisation of the agenda.

… or the media?

Another line of understanding continues giving the mainstream media a determining power in setting the agenda. Some of the arguments supporting this interpretation start from one of the promoters of the classical hypothesis of agenda-setting. In 2005, at a time when the impact of the internet was beginning to be felt, Maxwell McCombs, of the University of Texas, made the implementation of the previous proposals depend on two conditions, yet to be empirically validated.

The first refers to the number of people who frequent sites searching for information. If the classic media agenda-setting function tends to be diluted as the audience begins to distribute attention through the vast array of subjects available on the internet, the question is whether an audience so wide and fragmented can be said to exist at all.

The second condition is perhaps more difficult to achieve: online information agendas would need to be quite different from each other, as opposed to the relatively redundant agendas of traditional media.

Studies comparing the audience of the most-read paper journals with the most-consulted information sites showed that attention on the Web is even more concentrated than in the printed world. They also showed that many online sources are subsidiaries of traditional media sources, resulting in redundancy between the agendas of the two environments.

The citizen’s agenda?

Let us consider social media. Through the involvement of a large number of users, it is possible to create an agenda of themes alternative to those selected by mainstream media editors. The agenda-setting role played by YouTube, Facebook and Twitter has often been described in recent years, especially after the protests following the Iranian elections in 2009, (also dubbed the Twitter Revolution). In most cases, those are stories first brought by new media, then contextualized and validated by mainstream media.

In any case, imposing the re-evaluation of the agenda-setting concept.

This re-evaluation needs to consider that the gatekeeping function is now largely shared with media users, who furthermore aggregate and curate the information they consume. In Jim Hall‘s expression, they construct their own informative “diet”.

The result of this process has (or rather shares) the risks associated with much of the communication through the new media. Ben Smith, the editor-in-chief of the digital news portal BuzzFeed, recently denounced our tendency to live in filter bubbles, especially through our activities on social media. Anyone who works with information, he says, has spent the past year observing how social media affect people’s opinions about the world, and how they can close this world to dissenting opinions.

The return to the necessary social glue

The past clearly reveals the damage caused by the old agenda-setting operators, relentless in refusing arguments they considered outside the mainstream or political consensus. It is possible today to notice how the absence of a minimum standard of discursive order hinders, in a different way, the inter-comprehension and the understanding of questions of common interest. Diversity and plurality are conditions for the proper functioning of the civic life. They were precisely two of the values socially institutionalised by journalism, which social media seems to be threatening.

A multiplicity of fragmented agendas will not result in a platform for political discussion.

Without common experiences and concerns, a heterogeneous society will have much more difficulty identifying and responding to social problems. As Sunstein points out, it is these shared experiences, including those made possible by the media, which provide the social glue. As a result, a communication system that radically reduces the number of such experiences will create the conditions for the emergence of all the problems that result from social fragmentation.

In recent times, we have heard a lot about them. At stake is the emergence of a virtual pseudo-community that replaces the real community. Whether such dangers will materialise will ultimately depend on the aspirations that, on democratic terms, organise our practices.


Pic credit: Evan, The Beginning, Flickr CC licence

The post Who Sets the Agenda in the Internet Age? appeared first on European Journalism Observatory – EJO.

‘Focused on profitability’: Why The Atlantic is shifting its focus to YouTube

Forget food videos on the feed: The Atlantic is sailing against the winds, opting for longer videos as part of series that are distributed through YouTube.

The 160-year-old publication, which has a small video operation compared to the distributed-media publishers that get billions of monthly views on Facebook, is focusing on creating longer videos that dive into serious topics such as science and politics. This includes weekly video series featuring its lineup of star editors and reporters, as well as animated videos and documentary features. At the same time, The Atlantic is prioritizing YouTube as the platform to distribute this content. The reason: Not only is YouTube the place where this type of content performs best, but YouTube is still the best place for publishers — especially smaller ones with a limited amount of resources — to reach a lot of viewers while also generating consistent revenue from pre-rolls. (YouTube typically takes a 45 percent cut of ad revenue from pre-rolls.)

“We tend to be pretty focused on profitability — new investments require that revenue comes along with them,” said Kim Lau, vp and gm at The Atlantic. “The big shift for us is the realization over time that while our audience at is interested in and increasingly aware of our video, being able to grow [our video business] with just that audience is a little bit of a limitation.”

With a billion daily users on YouTube and countless videos to watch, YouTube certainly offers a reach that few others can match. It also offers a lot of noise.

The Atlantic’s approach to standing out is focusing on distinctive content that works well on YouTube’s platform, rather than pushing out as many videos as possible. Today, it’s launching a new science video series called “You Are Here,” which will feature The Atlantic’s science, health and technology writers exploring topics such as why Americans smile so much, the science of cool and whether social media is changing friendships. “You Are Here” joins other weekly video series such as “The Atlantic Argument,” a commentary series covering the latest news and political issues, and “Unpresidented,” which explores the new American political landscape. These shows follow a weekly release schedule.

“We know YouTube rewards consistency,” said Kasia Cieplak-Mayr von Baldegg, gm and executive producer for Atlantic Studios, “but we also try to jump on the news cycle, especially with ‘The Atlantic Argument,’ when there is something of huge interest for our audience.”

The Atlantic is also focusing on animation and explainer videos. These can be a combination of animations placed within existing editorial video series as well as animated interviews with interesting guests like Bill Nye. Both formats have performed well on YouTube; CNN’s Great Big Story, for instance, has an entire team devoted to creating cartoons, while Vox has grown a substantial YouTube following by focusing on in-depth (longer) explainer videos that frequently feature animation.

While these shows aim to bring more regular viewers — and subscribers — back to The Atlantic’s YouTube channel, they are also in the service of a handful of longer documentaries The Atlantic puts out every month. The publisher typically releases two or three documentary features, typically running for 10 minutes or longer, every month. These go in-depth on topics ranging from Nazi Richard Spencer to American towns that welcome refugees.

With this approach, people are beginning to come to The Atlantic’s YouTube channel and spend time watching videos. The average watch time among The Atlantic’s 41,000 subscribers was more than three minutes last month, the publisher said.

“Among the distributed video platforms, YouTube is so strong at creating an experience where people are watching longer videos and with the sound on,” said Cieplak-Mayr von Baldegg.

Of course, many scale-seeking digital publishers are still prioritizing Facebook because that still remains the best place to grab a lot of views in a short period of time. The Atlantic, like other publishers, is not ignoring Facebook. But it’s honest about Facebook’s limitations right now. The Atlantic will cut shorter versions of its videos — and include captions — for Facebook.

“Focusing on YouTube now allows us to bring monetization and high-quality storytelling all together in one place,” said Lau. “We’ll continue to dabble on Facebook.”

The post ‘Focused on profitability’: Why The Atlantic is shifting its focus to YouTube appeared first on Digiday.

A seat at the table: Google News Lab & Euronews talk to French voters in 360

What’s it like to have a cup of coffee with a voter two weeks before the French Presidential election? We partnered with Euronews to find out: providing viewers a seat at the table of a French voter to hear his views on the candidates in the run up to the upcoming election.

The piece, also available on YouTube, will be part of a series of nine 360 videos, all produced in partnership with Euronews, to get the pulse of diverse French voters ahead of next month’s elections. The partnership will also produce a tenth episode that will create a VR environment allowing viewers to watch the nine profiled voters’ reactions to the election results. To get closer to the subjects as close as possible to the field, Euronews worked with over half a dozen French regional media newsrooms, including in overseas territories, such as Ouest-France, Centre-France, Dernières Nouvelles d’Alsace, La Nouvelle République, Radio Caraïbes International and StreetPress.

The project is a part of a broader series of immersive storytelling partnerships the News Lab has undertaken to produce pieces that showcase the potential of immersive storytelling technologies in news and to share best practices and learnings from those projects across the industry.

We had the opportunity to speak to the project lead at Euronews, virtual reality editor Thomas Seymat, about the series, why he felt it was important to undertake, and lessons it taught him on the use of immersive storytelling in news.

How did the idea for a 360°/VR piece about the FR presidential election come to your mind?

Thomas: The political events of 2016 have been a wake up call for news organizations. Failures to see the results of the Brexit referendum or the U.S. election coming highlighted the gap between the media and the people they are supposed to cover. Filter bubbles, online and in real life, skewed perceptions.

In 2017, with key elections in the Netherlands, France, and Germany in the fall, journalists have a responsibility to get closer to the electorate. Immersive journalism gives us the tools to do precisely that: meeting French citizens ahead of the vote and, thanks to 360° video, taking our digital audience along with us.

Tell us about Euronews’ efforts to produce news video in 360°?

Thomas: Euronews published its first 360° video in February 2016. With the support of Google’s DNI fund, we have scaled up our operation and published over 85 videos since the end of June 2016. Thanks to this volume, we now have a unique experience, and have built a bespoke 360 workflow: it is a live experiment which consists in having both TV and digital workflows running in parallel, in the same space and within the same editorial team, to benefit from each other

It runs parallel to the digital and TV operations, but benefits from the skills from both. The aim of this workflow is to publish several timely, multi-lingual, 360° news videos per week. So, while ambitious, it proved relatively easy to adapt our existing process to the production of this multi-episodes series covering French society ahead of the presidential election: the numerous moving parts that form our immersive journalism workflow are already used to work together. The rhythm imposed by a multi-episodes series is pretty intense, especially due to the hard deadline of April 23rd, the first round of the election. I am not saying it is a walk in the park, but since we had accumulated experience shooting and publishing 360° videos we had learned how to overcome last minute challenges. We only had to fine tune our process. We did not start from scratch.

Why did you decide to partner with local newsrooms? What specific challenges/advantages did this collaborative approach present?

Thomas: Local media are trusted sources of news and have unparalleled knowledge of and access to the territories they cover. They are the ideal partners for a project like ours, as we wanted to hear from people with compelling stories all over France, and to strictly avoid “parachute journalism”, something that plagues large media organizations. Most newsrooms we contacted were eager to join this project, even though some had limited resources and time to invest. They have been instrumental to reach the level of geographical and sociological diversity the project hopes to cover.

It is also great to see that media innovation is not confined to large Parisian news organizations. Most importantly, we feel privileged to have the opportunity to share our immersive journalism experience with them, and to benefit from their knowledge and access. The joint publication of the videos on Euronews and the partner’s digital platform will ensure that it not only reaches a large audience, but also broadcasts the voices of diverse French citizens on a global scale, thanks to translation in English, German, Russian, Italian, and Spanish.

The project was a harder sell for others for various reasons, and that’s fine too. We approached every media organization with an open mind, hoping to find like-minded folks there. We are deeply grateful that so many answered positively and the collaborative aspect of the project improves several fold.

What advice do you have for smaller organizations that want to experiment in VR?

Thomas: A good story is a good story, so trust your journalists. Give them a chance to take a 360° camera while reporting a story, but without the pressure to necessarily produce something. If you are interested in immersive journalism, but unsure where to start, I recommend you check Journalism360. It’s an initiative which aims at gathering resources online for both beginner and expert immersive journalists. I wish it would have existed when I started doing immersive journalism, it would have saved me a lot of time!

Creating a VR experience takes resources, journalists, video editors, and partners. What surprised you about the process?

Thomas: Our extensive VR experience has prevented us from having any (large) bad surprise for this presidential election project. We had a few good surprises even, such as we have encountered the same interest for experimenting with 360° video among our local partners that I had found among most of my colleagues when I started implementing the project last summer. The new approach was never a concern or source of objections when we pitched the medium, so it’s encouraging for the future of immersive journalism in France.

What kind of unique, ethical questions came up in interviewing individual voters all across the country in 360°? Can you provide an example?

Thomas: Our videos were shot in people’s homes — so they have to understand a 360° camera captures everything around them. We also wanted to capture the most natural speech possible, so we kept the crew to a bare minimum: 1 local journalist, and 1 journalist-producer from Euronews. We did not want to invade homes and make people so uncomfortable they would shut off.

Filming in public can be a challenge as you inevitably feature passers-by who haven’t explicitly granted permission to be filmed. This situation occurs during regular filming too, and it’s simply something you need to be prepared for, if anyone does object. The benefit of our approach to 360° was that it was inconspicuous, and encouraged subjects to open up. As an editor you need to be on your guard to ensure nothing you broadcast contravenes French media publication laws.

We’ve also hoping to be able to use some cutting-edge new graphical approaches thanks to our partnership with Vragments towards the end of the series to summarize the content.

Were there any major technical challenges or storytelling challenges your team faced along the way? How did you overcome them?

Thomas: Despite all of our experience, the scale of the project means that of course there is going to be some challenges, but so far, nothing we could not fix with either a little extra effort, flexibility, or goodwill. I don’t monitor all the VR news pieces published in the world, but I don’t think anything close to this has been attempted to this scale before.

What do you hope to achieve in terms of how this piece will impact the conversation around the election? Will it contribute something that more traditional forms of storytelling couldn’t?

Thomas: In terms of impact, when watched properly with a cardboard or a headset, and earphones, VR isolates you from the surrounding world. Which is great because it means we have your full attention, and you are not distracted by your smartphone, etc. This will reinforce the strength of the testimonies in our video, in which people are being very open about their hopes, fears, and expectations ahead of the vote. By listening more closely to those people and being immersed where they actually live and work, audiences can better understand why they have formed the opinions they express.

Because it takes audiences directly to the center of the story, immersive journalism can paint a scene better than the best photographer or writer could. Spherical video is a de-mediated media in the sense that the viewer has a lot of editorial agency to choose where to look — a choice traditionally dictated by the journalist. So we really are taking our international audience into the houses, gardens, and workplaces of the French citizens we are creating portraits of.

A seat at the table: Google News Lab & Euronews talk to French voters in 360 was originally published in Google News Lab on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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