— Uneven Distribution.

Screen Shot 2014-04-07 at 1.27.41 pm

This post was originally published on Mumbrella.

On Mumbrella this week, Adam Ferrier asks “would your agency be doing better work if it put data, behavioural sciences, and technology up on pedestal along with creativity? Or is a single-minded focus on creativity still the answer?”.

It wasn’t just this question that got my interest, rather it was the wrapping of the question in the now common call for agencies to act more like startups – Ferrier suggestively asking “is it cooler to attend the Cannes Lions or tweet about the latest gadget unveiled at SXSW?”.

Here’s a secret – nobody in a startup is sitting around caring about acting more like an advertising agency.

Agencies don’t need to act more like startups. Agencies need to act more like agencies – ones that have evolved in response to new technology, tools, and thinking. Because that’s exactly what startups have done.

For startups, technology such as social networks have allowed rapid distribution due to network effects. New tools like Amazon Web Services and Django mean two guys in a garage can launch and scale a billion dollar idea like Instagram. New thinking around agile development, lean methodology, and user validation means startups can get to the right answer faster.

But these technologies, tools, and thinking do not define what a startup does. They are simply components that have been be added to the underlying engine. That engine, according to Lean Startup author Eric Ries, is the desire to “deliver a new product or service under conditions of extreme uncertainty”.

When Gordon Moore and Bob Noyce founded Fairchild Semiconductors in 1957 (essentially founding Silicon Valley in the process), their engine was akin to the 4-litre dual-carburetored V6 engine found in every Chevy at that time.

Using the components that have been created since, todays startups have an engine resembling today’s turbo-charged, electronically assisted, hyper-efficient F1 engines. There’s a lot of technology, tools, and thinking there, but underneath it’s still an internal combustion engine.

The engine of advertising agencies is the creative idea. Without the underlying engine, it doesn’t matter what components you throw in – whether it’s startups, behavioural economics, or big data – the fundamental purpose of the agency is absent.

If agencies stop putting ideas at the centre of what they do, if the idea ceases to be the engine, then agencies are no longer agencies.

This is not to say that data, behavioural science, technology, or whatever else is in vogue should be ignored. But these things need to be considered as components for the engine, not a replacement for it. As an industry, we’re not terribly good at recognising this and creating these new components in a meaningful and lasting way. I’ve spent the last decade around both agencies and startups, and the evolution of how startups operate is orders of magnitude greater than that of agencies.

The call to act more like startups bears a striking resemblance to previous calls for agencies to act differently – a couple years back it was big data, before that it was behavioural economics. We are quite adept at creating a convenient fiction of what other domains look like, and how we need to be more like ‘them’, how we need to completely change our engine. But we don’t, and we shouldn’t.

We shouldn’t ignore other domains altogether – there is plenty agencies can learn from startups. But creative ideas have always been, and should always be, at the heart of what agencies do. We don’t need to change that engine, we just need to create better components.

Read More

1853685

This article originally appeared in Forbes.

For the most part, agencies agree on how the industry will operate in 2020. Channels will be programmatically bought, always-on marketing plans will be automated and, when possible, all communications will be targeted and social.

Simple, right?

The danger of this vision is that – as agencies and advertisers become increasingly enamored with optimization algorithms and multivariate creative – they lose track of one of the most vital questions of all: How and why are consumers viewing and interacting with brands? Or perhaps we should back up a bit and inquire as to the very nature of brands in the first place. Is the term’s traditional definition as a non-tangible asset that provides consumers with a familiar shortcut in decision making and marketers a concept around which to build values and heritage still universally applicable?

I would propose that – in a world of always-on, individualized everything – a number of new “brand prototypes” may be useful. I’d like to highlight three examples: The Sleeper Brand, The Shiny Upstart and The Lean & Local. By understanding how and why these new types of brands are emerging, we will be better able to prepare for consumers’ anticipated interactions with them in 2020 – just a few short years from now.

Continue reading at Forbes…

Read More

staurdaypaper

The Saturday Paper launches this weekend, and if it can deliver on one of its key strategies – driving sales from younger readers – it could be the most interesting thing to happen to online publishing in Australia for a while.

These younger readers (let’s say twenty year-old students up to thirty year-old professionals) have grown up on free content. At least half of their life has been free music, entertainment, and news. Their sharing behaviour online has evolved from MSN Messenger and MySpace walls to overshared UpWorthy and BuzzFeed articles on Facebook.

For this audience, content is everywhere. But good, meaningful and insightful content is not. While they are the undisputed masters of filtering through mountains of content, there is a valid argument that this audience (and all of us) are yearning for trusted, authentic, and relevant news content.

The answer may not be in a Facebook post. It may be in paper. The prevailing cultural trend for an entire generation is ‘authenticity’- handmade anything, artisan coffee, vinyl, and bicycles that lack the last 100 years of mechanical innovation. The more connected to the time-before-internet a physical object is, the more cachet it carries.

So when The Saturday Paper launches, this generation might not see an alternative weekend paper, but instead see their first ever weekend paper. Here is a paper not controlled by a greedy old man in New York or a mining magnate in Western Australia. The content will interest them, and just as importantly the paper (which they will pick up from their local Aesop retail store) will look great tucked into their vintage leather satchel as they ride their fixie to the nearest single-origin roaster.

And if this happens, a few people within a generation who have grown up on free content, are now paying for it. It might not seem like a big deal, but it could be the start of a trend that many people feel – and even more hope – is inevitable.

We need to start paying, somehow, for content. Perhaps the start of this shift will come from the generation we least expect it to. And perhaps it will all start in print.

Read More

teadblock

If ever a sport was made for Twitter, it was cricket.

The banality of the various commentary teams combined with the snail’s-pace nature of the game creates the perfect opportunity for some hilarious and often insightful social media confabulation.

As long as you like all the betting ads.

This summer it was impossible to load up the #AUSvENG hashtag without encountering a promoted tweet about the odds on Mitchell Johnston’s mo hitting a four before the tea break.

I’m not going to go on a rant about online betting, except to say that the techniques used by online betting agencies are not only spammy and rapacious, but border on predatory.

When I first started seeing these ads, I simply blocked them – like I do with any spammer on Twitter. It turns out that blocking a user on Twitter not only means that you won’t see their tweets – it also ensures that you won’t see their ads (which are simply promoted versions of their tweets, shown to you even if you don’t follow that particular user).

After speaking with a few people about it, the common feedback was, “Yeah I can’t stand those ads. I’d love to block them all”. So I built an app – Twadblock – to allow anyone to easily do exactly that.

Twitter is a $30B company, with revenues almost entirely reliant on advertising. And yet it’s that easy to block its revenue stream – using functionality that’s built into the platform itself.

We’ve recently seen massive advancements in advertising technology: hyper-targeted, auction-based, real-time ad platforms promise advertisers better targeting and ROI, and users less irrelevant and disruptive ads.

But actual results definitely do vary. What we’ve actually witnessed is the proliferation of betting, fad diet, and dating ads – predatory industries that win auctions because they can directly tie advertising investment to suckers handing over their credit card numbers without even needing to put on a pair of pants.

Advertising needs new models – brands, publishers, and agencies are screaming for it. Important platforms such as Twitter, Instagram and Facebook will need these new models to survive, particularly now they are public companies sitting outside the revenue-less bubble of Silicon Valley VC.

I’m not entirely sure what these new models will look like, but I do hope 2014 is the year we finally see true innovation, and I stop seeing irrelevant betting ads.

Read More

This post originally appeared in The Media Briefing.

The media moguls of the 20th century built their empires on the back of advertising. While some scenarios for the future of news organisations don’t rely heavily (or at all) on ads, it is in the interest of advertisers that they remain a key revenue source, and in doing so retain the ability to communicate to mass audiences.

But if the future of the advertiser is tied to the future of news, what options are there?

Option one: No more mass

Both mass advertising and mass media may well become a cultural anomaly – a curious 100-year quirk where the publisher and advertiser found a symbiotic equilibrium that allows both to thrive. The mass audience and mass media business is protected by the cost of printing and distributing a newspaper – a bundle of content that most readers want only a small portion of.

The bundle is dead now, and with it the aggregated audience (the unspoken reality was that most of those ‘eyeballs’ the newspapers reported didn’t really see your ad anyway).

In this future, our news – much like its more entertaining counterpart in film – needs to survive on quality alone. The challenge for news organisations is that in order to create value people will pay for, they have to create unique content that is not accessible anywhere else.

And so the mass audience is gone, replaced by thousands of granular audiences who are willing to pay for unique and high-quality content on their chosen topic - celebrity diets, local politics, or women’s tennis.

Big business may still be able to aggregate fragmented sources, but ultimately our news diet will be made up of a dozen or so sources specific to our own tastes – and advertisers will need to identify and partner with these sources to create relevant communications to each specific audience.

Option two: Data-driven direct

In the data-driven future, advertising becomes more about partnerships, where revenue is traded for data. Subscriber data owned by the publisher is of value to individual advertisers who will create custom ads and offers for readers.

In this data-driven future, minority report will seem strangely prescient – users will see only ads relevant to them as dvertisers bid in real time for the opportunity to communicate based on an ever-growing stack of data on each person.

While this future does make for good sci-fi movies and alarmist magazine articles, the reality of how advertising actually changes behaviour may be its biggest challenge. Direct, measured, granular and targeted advertising can be successful in advertising some products, but advertising is as much about what goes on between two people as what goes on between the ears of one.

Hyper-targeting ignores the importance of word-of-mouth and the role of brands in culture. This future seems less likely when you consider that it still relies on publishers actually obtaining accurate user data – which at some point would probably mean convincing readers to sign up for a paywall.

Option three: Going native

‘Native’ was a contender for 2013′s advertising buzzword of the year. What was once known as advertorial has been transformed by media owners, who have suddenly realised that the resources they have gathered to create interactive and digital news content can also be put to good use to create interactive and digital advertising.

It’s a compelling idea – revenue for the publishers, while advertisers get to feel like they’re not just interrupting the reader, but are instead an integrated and critical part of the story.

The challenges for native are twofold. First is the economics – the reach and impact of native advertising is yet to prove compelling and valuable enough for advertisers to justify the price that a publisher would need to demand in order to make native profitable.

And if they can make the economics work, the damage to the publisher’s brand may turn out to be greater than any potential revenue upside. As the New York Times’ media commentator David Carr wrote: “Publishers might build a revenue ledge through innovation of the advertising format, but the confusion that makes it work often diminishes the host publication’s credibility”

.

Option four: Micro audiences

The final option is the complete disintermediation of the publisher. Mastheads – whether a century old or only a few years – exist as a way to aggregate writers and drive economies of scale. In any aggregated model there are always elements that outperform the rest and those that are hitching a free ride.

The journalists and writers who were the high performers are now realising that the economies of scale are no more. They have become media brands in their own right.

Last year political journalist Andrew Sullivan left his publisher, The Daily Beast, and went out on his own. In his first six months, Sullivan gained over 27,000 subscribers for a total of $715,000 in revenue. In the last few months, we’ve seen data journalist Nate Silver make headlines for jumping ship from the New York Times, and NSA-busting reporter Glenn Greenwald depart the Guardian to begin a new online venture.

If journalists are able to build up significant audiences, our news organisations could end up being replaced with a loose network of ‘bloggers formerly known as journalists’. While some may be able to survive purely on subscription revenue, this future creates some interesting opportunities for advertisers.

If brands can understand which of these micro-audiences they best align with, a simple model such as sponsoring the site (or a section of the site) for a month or week would likely create positive outcomes for the journalist and the advertiser, without being too jarring for readers.

The end?

The future for news will be interesting. And in turn, so will the future for advertisers and readers. We are in a transitional state, and for advertisers at least, it’s worth understanding and experimenting with all the options.

It’s likely news organisation will become some sort of hybrid of the above scenarios – unbundled but still networked, paid content with deep user data, but also free content that offers native opportunities. As such there are challenges and opportunities for brands in each of the futures.

The challenge of efficiently aggregating fragmented audiences has existed for several years in digital. While the publishing world might not completely fragment, it’s unquestionably valuable for brands to begin understanding how to achieve reach through fragmentation.

The data-driven future is also one that is a certainty for advertisers. After years of talk of big data, the reality is that brands should be getting a handle on the data they have – big or not – and understanding how it can be utilised and what value exists within it.

Native opportunities in 2014 will be driven primarily by publishers – a situation that offers opportunities and watch-outs for brands. This is an area where the publishing side needs a solution more than the advertisers, and while it’s critical that brands work closely with publishers to find bespoke solutions for reaching audiences beyond display, native in it’s current form needs to evolve to prove it’s worth.

Most importantly, the pace of change is not going to slow down. We may currently be in a period of mass upheaval, but when the dust settles, we’ll still be moving at a cracking pace.

Read More

This post also appeared in Press Gazette, and featured in PBS Media’s ‘Daily Must Reads’. If you’re interested in the data that inspired the article, the full results and code are available on The News Aesthetic. If you’re interested in this topic Dan Gillmore wrote a great piece looking at the same challenges, but from the journalistic point of view.

Paywalls were meant to be the saviour of journalism. Finally all the time and effort that went into investigating and reporting the news would be fully rewarded.
Consumers would pay a fair rate and businesses would once again have a sustainable financial model allowing them to invest and make a reasonable profit.

That, at least, is the theory. And if that’s going to work anywhere, it’ll be Australia. This is a country where the news is owned by two big organisations, Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp and Fairfax.

When it comes to print, the International Media Concentration Research Project from Columbia University found these two organisations are responsible for 86 per cent of newspaper sales in Australia.

Last year both put all their content behind a paywall. Consumers were encouraged to sign up with offers of free first month access and 50 per cent discounts for subsequent months if they subscribed.

All in all, four of the top 10 newspapers in Australia are now seeking money for access (representing 45 per cent of visitors across the top 10, according to Nielsen).

At the end of August News announced they had signed up 100,000 paid subscribers. Around the same time Fairfax announced it had attracted 68,000 subscribers.

While this looks a pretty positive performance and it is early days, there are some grumblings as to the validity of these numbers. News for instance, includes readers who have paid A$1, once, to access a digital edition of a paper for one day.

Official data from Nielsen shows that in the three months since introducing paywalls, Fairfax’s key sites (SMH.com.au and TheAge.com.au) saw an 18 per cent decline in page views.

That’s not good news because no one likes to lose traffic. From an editorial point of view it hits your influence and from a commercial point of view, less traffic means less advertising revenue.

The response has been to continue to seek ways of getting those visitors who do come to the site clicking, content that drives higher page views, and in the case of the metered paywall, driving them closer to becoming paying customers.

It is no surprise then that listicles, linkbait and slideshow content is all on the rise at mainstream publishers.

These are classic tactics to keep page views high, and the ad revenue rolling in. Much as the algorithm-driven world of online ads has caused a decline in the quality of advertising, paywalls – and the desperate desire for more page views – have caused a noticeable decline in the quality of news content.

This trend was apparent both before the introduction of paywalls (when ad revenue was the main income stream) but has continued since their introduction.

Our analysis shows that Fairfax – home of SMH and The Age – has massively ramped up the number of slideshows or photo galleries (each picture counts as a separate page view), for example.

By tracking the number of slideshows in its top four categories – National, World, Lifestyle and Sport – we’ve found a massive increase in recent years.

In fact, in Q3 2013 they ran nearly 700 such slideshows (although some may have been published in multiple sections). Since Q3 2009, the number of such shows across these four sections is up more than 250 per cent.

Publishers may be happy that paywalls are finally delivering some of the revenue that has been lost to the free content web, but they need to remain aware of the long-term viability and reputation of their sites.

Readers visit these sites because they are trusted sources. Similarly advertisers gravitate towards these sites not just because of their large reach, but because they are seen as premium environments to be in.

If the traditional craft of writing and researching great stories becomes overwhelmed by clickbait, publishers may find advertisers increasingly happy to look elsewhere.

Read More

tweetment

Last week I updated thenewsaesthetic.com with a new experiment – Tweetment. Tweetment combines The Guardian and Twitter APIs to show tweets that link to a particular article.

The list of articles is grabbed from The Guardian – currently it’s using the most popular Australian articles from the past 24hrs. Tweetment then looks for tweets that contain a link to that article. Tweets that contain only the article headline are removed, and the remainder are ordered based on the number of retweets.

The article headline is then displayed with the corresponding tweets, styled in a way so the most influential are most visible, while those with no retweets become almost invisible.

There’s been a lot of talk recently around commenting systems. Much of the discussion centres around anonymous comments and platforms that highlight authority, expertise, or level of involvement in the commenting community of a specific site.

The thought behind Tweetment was that a twitter username provides a proxy for authority, so perhaps people tweeting an article with a comment would provide more interesting and informed discussion. Because people (mostly) care about their twitter profiles, it would act as a kind of organic authentication system – you’ll think about your comment because it’s connected to everything you have said in the past and will say in the future..

The results weren’t exactly that. As you’ll see by checking it out, once we filter out tweets only containing the headline, there’s not a lot of meaningful comment around most articles. There’s quite a lot of retweets going on with very little value. Many articles seem to have one clear distributor/influencer – and it seems that if these people were to provide a comment or question in their tweet a valuable and interesting discussion might follow.

So Tweetment wasn’t a booming success, but it has raised a few questions that will form the basis for future experiments:

  • Analysis and data around what sentences/points from articles are actually being tweeted (this could form the basis for how content creators push out their social media updates)
  • If conversation does happen on Twitter around a piece of content, how could that discussion be displayed effectively? (especially given Twitter’s new thin blue line)
  • Modelling and (predictive) analysis around who will be the key influences for a piece of content on a particular topic from a particular publisher.
  • A more in-depth look at how tweets can be presented visually in a way to denote authority or expertise.
Read More

A few months ago I set up thenewsaesthetic.com, a site to build small experiments in digital media. The first of these experiments was The Election Worm – a platform which captured all election stories from major digital media publishers in Australia, and then asked visitors to rate any bias in the headlines. The experiment got a bit of attention, and I thought it was worth noting down some of the learnings.

1. People have strong opinions about politics.
This one is a bit obvious, but still surprised me. I’m not a political person, and I was careful not to present this as an endorsement of any one party (or publisher) in particular. From the outset I had people claiming I was supporting one party of the other, including a few colourful emails. The next experiment on the site won’t have anything to do with politics.

2. There’s a lot of content created around the election.
Across the four weeks, 4,716 unique headlines were collected from News, Fairfax, ABC and The Guardian. If it takes three minutes to read each article, it would take you 10 days without a break to read them all. The cost of putting a new article online is essentially zero – there’s no page limit online and every new piece of content is another opportunity to monetise through advertising (unless you’re the ABC). This would be an interesting metric to track across future elections.


Source: The News Aesthetic

 

3. People struggle to differentiate digital publishing with newspapers.
Despite making it pretty clear this was about articles published online, the most consistent feedback I received was along the lines of “look at this Telegraph front page! How can you say they’re not biased?!?!” It seems that the cultural impact of physical newspapers is still considered to be greater than the impact from digital news sources, despite the online audience being higher than Monday-Friday readership for every publication except The Age.


Source: News Corp Australia, Fairfax Media

 

4. Spammers come from both sides (and some just seem confused).
Spam votes were automatically removed. A spammer was defined as a single person voting for an improbably high percentage of biased articles vs. neutral articles. Spammers fell in to two groups – the first were people who just voted consistently for bias to one party (presumably to prove that the entire Australian digital media is biased); the second group voted for bias in both directions with almost no neutral votes (presumably these people didn’t understand the concept of bias given the high percentage of unquestionably neutral headlines). There were 43 total spammers, who took time out of their lives to vote 1190 times (only to have those votes removed). 220 more spam votes were cast for Liberal party bias, however it’s not worth reading too much into this given the top ALP bias spammer voted 93 times and the top Liberal bias spammer voted 221 times.


Source: The News Aesthetic

 

5. The reality is in the details.
Across more than 4,000 articles, all publishers were judged to have a left bias. It will take another election to understand whether bias in digital media always favours the incumbent, but the headlines that were most consistently voted left or right tell the story most people expected to see. Looking at headlines that were voted 100% left or right (and had at least 4 votes) – Fairfax and The Guardian made up 80% of the ALP bias, with News responsible for just two articles. When it came to the top 10 articles showing bias to the right, News was responsible for eight, and Fairfax only two articles.


Source: The News Aesthetic

Top 10 ALP Bias

  1. Fairfax: Just trust me, Abbott tells voters
  2. Fairfax: Rudd’s GST ‘scare’ actually the truth
  3. Fairfax: Abbott drops a blonde bombshell
  4. News: Labor to tweet on Abbott ‘lies’
  5. Fairfax: Energy crisis: $4 billion gap
  6. News: Rudd lifts Labor in Queensland: Newspoll
  7. Fairfax: Rudd breathes fire and brimstone
  8. The Guardian: Tony Abbott’s Indonesian boat-buy scheme defies economic sense
  9. The Guardian: Abbott makes campaign pitch at school that calls homosexuality ‘abomination’
  10. Fairfax: Tony Abbott creeps out Big Brother house

Top 10 Liberal Bias

  1. News: Most voters say Rudd hasn’t changed: poll
  2. News: Revolt over dumping of Labor candidate
  3. Fairfax: Abbott stands firm, Rudd runs
  4. News: Rudd play second fiddle again
  5. News: Rudd cheated in leaders’ debate: coalition
  6. News: Rudd the younger is simply smokin’
  7. News: Rudd escalates budget brawl
  8. Fairfax: Rudd’s a goner as harsh reality dawns on Labor
  9. News: In a sex war, old titbits bite
  10. News: Beattie tweets: ‘I am a fighter’

(note that the headlines were presented with their subhead – which I haven’t included above due to space, but also affected the ranking)

 

6. All publishers flock.
Everybody moved together – when Abbot made a gaffe, everyone notched a bit to the left. When Rudd stuffed up, everyone jumped to the right. Over the final weeks of the campaign, everyone trended back to the right – seemingly not wanting to be seen to be backing a loser.

7. Believe none of what you hear, and half of what you see. (And not a lot of what you read)
After the site got a bit of attention, the media jumped on it. The Australian, The Daily Telegraph, and Andrew Bolt all wrote about it. I was asked for interviews with John Laws and Adam Spencer. The Australian’s Nick Taberkoff was nice enough to point out this was an experiment, and certainly not academic. The Daily Telegraph and Andrew Bolt didn’t add in that caveat. The number of votes, voting mechanic, and fact this was an experiment, were all made clear. This isn’t academic research – it’s some code that was written on a Sunday afternoon, and to present it as canonical evidence of anything is questionable.

Read More

nytifttt

A quick follow up to the article I wrote a few weeks back on paywalls and the API opportunity for publishers.

In what’s a perfect example of how publishers could be utilising digital for better distribution, NY Times have now launched a channel for IFTTT that accesses the publisher’s content through their API.

IFTTT is an ‘app automator’ – it contains channels such as email, stock prices, Evernote, Dropbox and many more that allow you to create “If this, then that” actions. Some examples from the site include automatically emailing yourself a photo as soon as you take it on your iPhone, receiving an SMS with the weather forecast every morning, or automatically backing up your email address book to a Google spreadsheet.

The NY Times channel on IFTTT allows you to create actions when new articles are posted in certain topics, or based on certain search keywords. It’s open to anyone to use, however the experience will obviously be much better if you’re a subscriber.

In the article on paywalls I suggested content companies should focus on creating awesome content, and leave distribution to the people who are building businesses around awesome distribution ideas. I can’t think of a better example than this – IFTTT is an amazing idea to distribute information, and it will be interesting to see the measurable impact that it has on the NY Times business.

Read More

hw

Several Weeks ago Col Allan arrived in Australia, and the media world was whipped into a frenzy. Suspicion grew that “Col Pot” was back to ruthlessly execute Rupert’s vision of decimating the ALP through his control of 59% of the newspapers read in Australia.

The run of Daily Telegraph front-pages that followed seemed to confirm the suspicions. But given News’ print numbers are in freefall – back more than 10% based on the latest audit – I became more interested in how the bias would surface in digital, where far more Australians are actually consuming their news.

So I spent a few hours over the weekend building something to analyse bias in online media coverage of the election. The result is The Headline Worm.

The Headline Worm grabs every headline published by The Australian, Herald-Sun, Daily Telegraph, The Age, SMH, ABC and The Guardian and stores them in a database. It then charts the bias over time of each publisher based on all of those headlines.

The results are somewhat surprising – and perhaps reflect more on the state of the election and the parties than the bias of publishers. While both Fairfax and the Guardian are more left-leaning, the ABC remains almost neutral with News sitting slightly to the right of the ABC. All publishers seem to swing slightly left or right together on a daily basis – a reflection of who’s made a gaffe or great policy that day.

I’ve already had a flood of questions about this, a few I’ll address below.

How is bias calculated? Detecting bias is tricky. There’s no way to automate it as bias is entirely subjective. So the way that bias is calculated is through visitors to the site ranking headlines without any idea of the publisher. I had my doubts about this system at first, but visitors were ranking several headlines when they visited, and there’s now at least 4 rankings per headline. It could be better, but given the polls that create so much of the election news are based on data from automated phone surveys interrupting the dinner of as few as 300 Australians, I’m not too concerned.

Why is it so wiggly at the start? At the beginning it was assumed everyone had zero bias. So the first few articles influence the overall bias for that publisher massively. Because the bias is cumulative, over time it becomes smoother and large jumps more unlikely.

Can I have the data? I’ll make all of the data downloadable at the end of the election.

Could you chart it in a different way? There’s a bunch of ways to chart this data. One of the most interesting is a scatter plot showing individual articles. I’ll try and get that up soon, along with a few other great ideas people have suggested.

What stops someone just spamming the rankings? There’s an automated way to stop this. I am however keeping the spammy rankings in a separate database to analyse at the end of the election. Because IP addresses are recorded with rankings I’ve already noticed some interesting geographical trends. I’d also suggest if you work for a publisher you shouldn’t be submitting 187 rankings in a row with the same bias (but thanks for caring so much).

Read More