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News from Episode 298

By Site Strategics
February 2, 2019

When EDGE hosts Erin Sparks (Site Strategics CEO) and Tom Brodbeck (Site Strategics Digital Media Director) hit the airwaves each week with a new episode of their EDGE of the Web podcast, you know you can count on them to cover the latest digital marketing news. EDGE of the Web Episode 298 with special guest digital strategist Ross Simmonds of Foundation Marketing offers the latest news roundup from the EDGE.

Google and WordPress Collaborate on “Newspack” CMS for Local Journalism

Journalist Abner Li reported on 9to5Google that WordPress and Google are partnering on a special “Newspack” content management system optimized specifically for local journalism. Google is devoting $1.2 million to developing the CMS along with another million coming from funders such as the Lenfest Institute for Journalism, The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and Civil Media. Nobody knows yet what the CMS will look like because it hasn’t been built yet, but is expected to launch later this year.

  • Tom Brodbeck: Everyone has seen how local newspapers have been in decline and laying people off and shrinking their footprint. This new initiative seems to be aimed at keeping local news afloat in some way. It will probably give them easier access to get in the Google newsfeed and that sort of thing that you wouldn’t have with a normal WordPress site.
  • Erin Sparks: I get kind of concerned whenever Google starts creeping more and more inside of our websites as opposed to just saying on the periphery. They just keep improving what they do so you never have to leave their sites. It’s like getting sucked into their vortex is inevitable and resistance is futile.
  • Ross Simmonds: It’s a brilliant move, really. It makes sense that Google would want to partner with WordPress since it’s the CMS that controls nearly a third of websites. Google understands that people want their local news and they want it instantly. If people can get their local news directly from Google and they have this relationship with the publishers such that people don’t have to click away to another website to get that local news, then that would be very good for Google. It might only be a matter of years where people see they’re getting their local news directly in a Google feed right on their search results pages.

Amazon’s Freedive Video Platform to Serve Up New Advertising Opportunities

In an article by Amy Gesenhues on Marketing Land, we learn that Freedive, Amazon’s free video-on-demand service, serves up new video advertising opportunities. This is significant because Amazon is the third largest digital ad seller behind Google and Facebook. Freedive is actually an initiative of movie database giant IMDb, which in turn is owned by Amazon. Freedice is available in the US on the IMDb website, Amazon Fire TV devices, Amazon’s Roku channel and on mobile devices via the IMDb app. IMDb has more than 250 million unique monthly users from around the world. This is Amazon’s chance to pose a real challenge to the leaders of the fast-growing video advertising market.

  • Erin Sparks: Looks like this is just going to be another free platform totally plastered with advertising. I’m getting tired of free advertising platforms that don’t put enough emphasis on great content. If the content is good, a following will develop.
  • Ross Simmonds: The world is going more and more towards streaming, so this a no-brainer everybody needs to pay attention to. When you look at digital marketers, our ability to capture the budget in terms of media spend has consistently been a challenge unless we are investing time into creating rich content, and we’re going up against the materials you see coming out of video through Amazon, through Netflix, and so on. This is a massive opportunity and everyone needs to keep an eye on it.
  • Tom Brodbeck: I don’t know how much people will keep going to IMDb. When most people are watching a movie and they want to know what they’ve seen an actor in before, they’re going to do a quick Google search. I don’t think they’re going to go to IMDb.

Facebook to Invest $300 Million in Local News

Writer Anthony Ha in TechCrunch reports that Facebook says it will invest $300 million in local news. Local news outlets have certainly been under tremendous pressure in recent years, and Facebook has always had a rather rocky relationship with news in general. It has typically only involved itself in partnerships with news giants like CNN and Fox News, but according to Vice President of Global News Partnerships Campbell Brown, what people keep saying they want is more local news. Facebook’s money will be spent over several years to support journalists and newsrooms in the news-gathering process, and help them build sustainable business models.

  • Tom Brodbeck: Does that $300 million represent even one day’s worth of Facebook ad revenue? This is clearly a PR stunt. They’re just throwing money at different causes and different membership organizations. They’re not hiring journalists.
  • Erin Sparks: Agreed.
  • Ross Simmonds: I agree. I think it’s a PR stunt. Facebook is getting a lot of slack lately for the fake news problem and how they have with no question changed the entire media landscape, and not necessarily for the better. This is a way for them to put a little bit of lipstick on the pig, look a little bit better for a short period of time, maybe convince a few journalism students to write nice things about them in the future and not necessarily go against any ethics by donating the money to these non-profits that support journalists and hopefully allows them to have a great story told in these different publications.

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