The Bloggers shall not take over! George Patts Y&R and Wunderman need your help!

This was the headline in a recently published AdNews article (AdNews is the top selling advertising magazine in Australia). It is really disappointing when bloggers are highlighted in this traditional media that they are painted as these people who want to take over and gain world domination.

There are a number of problems that I am going to address with article.

1. Us vs. Them
Bloggers are sick and tired of the US vs. THEM debate, we do not want to battle against traditional media. Blogs in a number of areas helps provide news about niche topics. E.g I am really interested in Social Media therefore I love AdNews and B&T for my general news but when I need more specific news on this topic then I will go to bloggers.

2. Bloggers are only news sources
The main argument was that the Top 100 bloggers link to traditional sources more than other sources, there are a number of other things that blogs can offer; a forum for discussion, putting forward ideas, expression outlet.

It does happen the other way as well, just this week B&T wrote a news story about a blog post that I did weeks ago.

3. Journalist are more professional
Here is a great example of point 2 and 3. Have a look at the way journalist for The Age Asher Moses treated blogger Laurel Papworth over her photos with the Uluru, Big Pond saga, can you now tell me who was professional in this situation?

4. Post it note
There is a rip off of a previous campaign, if you had read Bannerblog (Top 5 Australian Marketing Blog, ) you would of seen this before printing?!?!?!? There are plenty better examples

5. Read edit

6. Choose another subject
They could of chosen a number of other things to talk about. Why didn’t they talk about the way that bloggers fit into the new media environment, the best strategies to getting into contact with bloggers, tools that can be used to find the good sources of information in the blogosphere.

7. Video business models
How could you possibly write an article about video business models and not include the Google Ad Words, Seth Macfarlane (Family Guy Creator) and Burger King collaboration, talk about that business model that has been the most recent advancement in the area.

Why am I getting so fired up?
Because AdNews is a reputable source of information and they have shown a lack of criticalJulian Cole thinking into the mechanics of what is really at play in the landscape, not only that but they have brought up a debate that we as marketers and advertisers were never engaged in Bloggers vs. Journalist, (who cares about this, the real question is what is the future going to look like with them working together?)

Edit: After talking with Ben, I realised that point 5 was actually a little too personal, therefore I have excluded it. Sometimes I get a little too fired up.


Anonymous said...

There is always room for something better.

Ben Shepherd said...

i think the general point he's trying to make (that professional content will always be extremely valuable for brands and the large share of budget will continue to sit with professional players) is probably true.

but in saying that, the definition of 'professional content' will probably blur even more than we think.

i think it's an interesting point he makes about pro content faciliating blog discussion - i think this is absolutely true but by no means does it mean professional content has any more merit ... it's probably more a sign that the main guys will move towards being facilitators of opinion/thought of readers and not being broadcasters/gatekeepers of published news/views

Anonymous said...

There was a time when the establishment used to run around saying the earth was flat too. It took braver souls to sail all the way around to prove them wrong. Right now Julian I feel we are also embarking upon that voyage. Pretty soon we will be able to show the flat earthers they were wrong.

Anonymous said...

You certainly did get fired up. By no means am I having a go at bloggers, and I feel as though you’ve misinterpreted me here

1.I agree with you completely. Blogs are better for niche interests and areas. In a previous Adnews article entitled “Customisation is Hot”, I write about this very fact, and illustrate that the growth in iGoogle and other customised content centers is because our individual variability for web content is better catered for by aggregating content from a range of disparate sources (often blogs covering specific topics). That said, for broader news and current affairs, traditional news sites are still more effective and more highly referenced than blogs.

2.Again, agreed. However the link pattern is far more likely to be from blog to newspaper site than vice versa.

3.I’m not disputing the quality of blogs such as Laurel's or yours. But as a whole, the process behind traditional media, ensures that the quality of the content is significantly more professional than a random blog on the internet.

4.Again agreed. I’m sure there are many better examples. That was designed to illustrate how Youtube can be used by unlikely companies, rather than an example that epitomises best practise.

5.Thanks! otherwise i would have had to sue! jk

6. I write for Adnews reasonably frequently across a range of different topics. This is the first time I've made this comparison.

7. My point still stands perfectly strong in this regard. I haven't heard of the example you cited, but i'll check it out.

I don't really think im demonstrating a "critical lack of thinking" as you so kindly put it.

Rather I'm illustrating that the balance of power still sits with established players.

Anonymous said...

Julian, I have to remind you membership to the flat earth society is not exclusive to journo's.

Big ad exec's are struggling with the shift from mass media to digital and social media.

Keep the good work-up!

Laurel Papworth said...

Oh if I wanted to list off why blogger vs journos Id start with
* 71% Australian public doesn't trust journalists (roy morgan)
* australians spend more time online than watching TV (Nielsen report)
* newspaper ad send dropped 14% in the first half of 2008 and 16% last half of last year (Newspaper Assoc America)
* bloggers read the same press releases that journos do
* bloggers write about the things they're interested in, journalists write about the things they think other people are interested in
* online video advertising is the last great white hope of agencies - but will fail spectularly (laurel papworth - heh).
*the closure of the Bulletin
Not to mention the mass sackings at Ben's own company, WPP Y&R a few weeks ago.

But who can be bothered? Mainstream is no longer mainstream - wince at the figures for heritage media, frown over ex-Fairfax, ex PBL, ex-agency staff and just get on with creating the future. :) Cheers

Anonymous said...

Hi There Julian I quite agree
I honestly dont take Ad news that seriously .Anybody that has to resort to this sort of dialogue obviously doesnt understand the space.Ad news still has a lot to learn about making its cocntent available online maybe they could take a leaf out of the example set by the N.Y Times who actively engage bloggers and make all thier content available and have since expotential seen a huge rise in revenue from assoicated services.They obviously are still living in the traditional media world.I hope you wrote them a letter as well

Ben Shepherd said...

am i the only one that sees a heap of 'us versus them' sentiment in these posts.

Anonymous said...

@ Laurel Papworth
I am both a journalist and blogger.
You point out the statistics about people not trusting journalists , and that's fine. I understand that a lot of people have had very bad experiences with the press and this can sway their opinion. But I am a lot less trustworthy of a greater number of bloggers (not you, but just in general) because at least journalists put their name to what they publish. A lot of people out there in the blogosphere hide behind quirky or witty titles and cannot be held accountable.
What a lot of people don't understand is that a lot of traditional media (e.g newspapers) are taking a little while to catch up to the online revolution. There are a lot of big papers out there that have the money and resources to fund ventures such as blogs and other online things. But smaller papers are still wary of what it means to move online.
What is needed is a mutual respect between the two mediums to ensure credit it given when credit is due.
Sure newspapers will rip off ideas bloggers write about and turn it into stories because that's just what they do. It's not just happening from bloggers, but journos get their news wherever they can (even the pub!)
But same goes with a lot of bloggers. There's greater freedom online to ensure to attribute everything to a source (that includes pics and everything).

I'm just starting out as our first blogger at my paper and we're learning as we go. It's baby steps for a lot of papers and a lot of the time its not the journo that calls the final shots but those above us that tell us what we can and cant do/write.

Finally, newspaper sales might be dropping off. But people are still consuming our newspapers online.
We are a traditional media, not a dying media.


Anonymous said...

Good writing is good writing and will stand on its own merit regardless of the forum.

The benefit of blogs is absolutely the freedom and rawness of it. Like a dinner conversation or a debate at the pub (since you mentioned it Meg).

However, a filtration system is what makes something credible. Otherwise it's just verbal or mental diaoherra.

It's a catch 22 in that case. People don't trust 'traditional' journos because of this filtration process and feel that there is some 'greater power' that is stopping the complete truth. On the other hand, isn't this exactly the reason to trust any information - because it has been through a rigorous and proven sytem?

Potentially, we will get to a point where everything will be checked and balanced by the community of users and cuts out the middle man (the great promise right?). But for the moment, it's simply still virtual backscratching.

Nick HaC said...

I've enjoyed listening to this conversation, thanks Ben and Julian and all commenters.

Yes social based peer production and amateur culture is teaching us all that people who do create for love not money can make better content than those who get paid to create. But as it stands today and i would speculate for some time to come, the lion's share of business value will continue for some time to be allocated to mainstream content production.

To give credence to Ben Phillips post (disclosure i had lunch with him today) - i strongly agree with his last comment "the balance of power and share of advertising dollars still sit with the professional players". I'm pretty sure we all agree that this is the state of play in Australia given the propensity of Joe Public to consume Today Tonight & Dancing with the Stars as opposed to bettering themselves with knowledge or creating their own content. Knowing Ben as a leading Australian digital strategist who has repeatedly delivered many successful online campaigns and as an avid social media content producer, it comes to mind that potentially there was some "devils advocate" in his position.

This kind of debate emerged not so long ago at PubCamp08 - imagine putting 8 traditional media types and 100 bloggers in the same room with a debate on this issue... It was alot of fun... Mark Jones (ex AFR IT Editor) was intermediary between these different ways of thinking (his Blog)

A number of brighter minds that ours (Lev Manovich, Bruce Sterling, Clay Shirky, Yokai Benkler) have spoken over the last few years about the value of amateur culture and how commons based peer production has the potential to cannibalise traditional content production and distribution value. I Agree.

Paul Graham of Ycombinator in an infamous speech as OSCON05, "what business can learn from open source " talked about how mainstream media has largely dismissed blogs and amateur content based on its low average quality. He goes on to comment that it is in fact not the average bloggers that mainstream media are competing with, but the best bloggers. He argues that Aggregators prove this to be true. Just compare the homepage of Reddit to the Homepage of SMH... Game Set Match in terms of interestingness and on time news reporting.

In some ways this debate is similar to Microsoft vs Open Source - and whilst we all strongly believe in the value and unbridled creativity of bottoms up peer production, im pretty sure as a businessman - i would rather be Bill Gates than Richard Stallman.

Despite mine and julians clear idealism in this discussion, we must all remember we are early adopters in the innovation curve and if we want to change the world - we have a duty to the incumbent to repeatedly prove the significant value of our movement (before we stick the knife in and send them bankrupt). Lets be mindful mainstream is fighting a downhill battle and only trying to protect revenues - no real need to kick them while they are down :)

Thanks Julian and Ben

Anonymous said...

Nice post

Anonymous said...

Wow. It's hard to hate on someone that quotes one of my fav mags, Tech Review.

Op-eds in ad rags are about having a sensational headline and backing it up with a few sweeping proofpoints + [insert stat] + [insert quote] (hell, we've all done it). To that end, it's definitely a pro-establishment article but I don't think the author is intending to be negative about bloggers... he's just saying that the large media sites still have a very important role (which is undeniable because they have amassed the most eyeballs - at least in Australia), and has packaged it in a contrarian style of writing... to get it read and discussed.

Nice to see Cole bait us all by posting it.

Ben - this is like the music/street press days... only we now have salaries and we're not debating who flows tightest :)

BTW Rakim? Big Daddy Kane? Pharoh Monche?

Ben Shepherd said...

haha mark! i was thinking the same thing - when you'd get on and forums like inthemix and talk about who was the best producer/dj/mc etc ... it's just now I'm old

Stanley Johnson said...

Last time I looked, GPY&R and Wunderman were not the same company.

The may both be part of the Y&R Brands group, but they are not the same agency.

Ben Phillips works at GPY&R.

He does not work with or for Wunderman.

Perhaps Ben's point about blogger fact checking may be true after all.

As for the blogger vs journalism argument, surely it's no different in its gross generalisation than your ongoing social media vs advertising argument?

Anonymous said...

@mark pollard.

Completely correct. Also, I didn't write the headline! If i did, I would have tried to keep it slightly less inflammatory.

Also, 2 issues ago (in Adnews), I wrote an article that's very much pro-blogs and customised content aggregation. I uploaded it here.

Julian Cole said...

Hey Craig, I would like to build on your flat earth analogy, I would like to think that we could help get people from the establishment to help build our boat and sail with us too. I think Nick Hac says it best when he suggests that ‘Lets be mindful mainstream is fighting a downhill battle and only trying to protect revenues - no real need to kick them while they are down’. I think that is spot on, to build on that Mitch Joel brought up a really good point on his podcast about re educating the current people in media and marketing in traditional media, there are a lot of smart thinkers and a lot of the rules are the same, it is our job to help demystify social media to these people as well.

I think we are doing a great job with creating content on the subject on our blogs and getting into traditional press and publishing stories but I would be interested to know peoples thoughts about how we can push this even further forward???

Hey Ben P, maybe critical lack of thinking was a little to far, I have re edited it to a lack of Julian Cole thinking.

Hey Ben S, it is a good point about the changing role of traditional media and what impact of online content.

Hey Laurel, thanks for the stats, you are the stats queen! You are right about all the closures, the important thing is that we make sure that all these intelligent people who have been retrenched are educated ont he new landscape and we get their intelligence working on coming up with solutions on how companies can integrate.

Hey David, totally agree about AdNews looking towards NYTimes model, I think they do not even have to look that far from home. Scott Drummond and MarketingMag are doing a great job at integrating within the online environment.

Hey Meg, I am a big fan of the work that you are doing and pioneering the blog space within The Courier Mail. However I think to say that saying that in general a greater number of bloggers do not put their name to what they publish is incorrect. Having compiled the Top 100 Marketing blogs, I would say less than 10% stay anonymous, have a look at The Top 100 Australian Blogs as well, there would be probably less than 10% staying anonymous there as well!

Hey Ryan, I think the best model of content creation is a the academic model for journal articles. They get peer reviewed by specialist in the specific areas. I think that model is kind of like a mix of the two model of content creation. However I also think that as a very general rule, things like Technorati and Ranking Lists help to provide an indication of where the good content is.

Hey Mark, this discussion just got so much cooler when you brought in hip hop analogies! I think I am going to go back to writing post about explaining social media thought hip hop artist.

Hey Stan Lee, When I rang up GP&YR to get Ben’s email* they said that his email address was ****, therefore I added it, if you want to prove me wrong as you know I am happy to edit it. Stan what gross generalisation would you be talking about with Social Media vs. Advertising within Australia???

*I emailed Ben the article so he could have the right of reply.

Laurel Papworth said...

Hi Julian - agree re: educating sacked heritage media journos and editors. Here's my presentation to 80 "freelance" journalists. on slideshare. I stand by my point though, get on with creating the future and don't focus on inflammatory articles from heritage media. Things will settle down once they understand how it all works - we went through this in 1995-96 as well. :)

Anyone who thinks that social media can't compete with advertising in mainstream needs to relook at eBay's billions and the impact they had on classifieds. I remember when the section of classifieds in the Saturday paper for second hand furniture was PAGES long.

Anonymous said...

Point four should read "should have" not "should of."

Anonymous said...

It's all a bit of bullshit...deciding on what bullshit you are gonna believe, is up to the individual.