The State of the News Media: It’s Not as Bad as You Might Think

As this past week has shown us, news is still an integral part of life on this planet. As the drama in Japan unfolded, CNN’s viewership jumped up 172% and Fox news saw a 47% increase in viewers. At the same time, Twitter and Facebook exploded with information from both traditional news sources and the man on the street. We may toss out the Wednesday LA Times unread but when a major event happens, we all turn to the news for information and answers.

The Pew Project for Excellence in Journalism has an extensive report called State of the Media 2011. Going in to it, you may think it will be all gloom and doom, but there are bright spots and hope for the future, if the media will simply learn to embrace change.

StumbleUpon Paid Discovery: Advertising That Sneaks Up on You

Imagine yourself wandering along through the internet jungle, minding your own business, checking out the virtual flora and fauna and wham — you discover a gem hidden amongst all the clutter.

Exciting, isn’t it? StumbleUpon thinks so and that’s why they’re about to release their latest advertising arena which they call Paid Discovery. Now, when you think about it, Paid Discovery is kind of an oxymoron. The word “discovery” implies that you found it accidentally and yet “paid” implies that someone put it there on purpose. Still, that’s the concept behind the new service that could be quite advantageous for creative marketers.

San Fran SMB’s Fight to Keep Yellow Pages

There was a day where the Yellow Pages phone directory had a coveted spot in every home and phone booth. These days, however, a huge number of phone directories go straight from the doorstep to the trashcan.

The Product Stewardship Institute estimates that phone books create 660,000 tons of waste per year and because they’re printed on low-grade paper, recycling isn’t easy. That’s why San Francisco Board of Supervisors President David Chiu has proposed a bill to stop the unsolicited drop off of these books. He’s suggesting that instead of an opt-out program, Yellow Pages delivery would be an opt-in program and that’s a big difference.

Advertisers and Agencies Differ on Digital Spending

Digital advertising is an important part of any company’s business, but according to a new report from Econsultancy and SAS, agencies and their clients have very different views on how that money should be spent.

Looking at this chart from eMarketer, we can see that 75% of agencies thought their clients should spend more money on mobile marketing but only 62% of advertisers agreed.

On the flip side, advertisers wanted to increase their spending on search, display and email marketing. Not only did their agencies not agree, but they went so far as to say that display dollars should be kept the same or decreased.

The biggest gap is in the area of the company website. 61% of advertisers think they need to spend more while only 39% of agencies agreed.

LinkedIn Launches Industry News Aggregator

There’s too much information out there and not enough time in the day, so why not let your industry peers help you sort through the clutter!

That’s the pitch for LinkedIn’s new social news aggregator LinkedIn Today.  Set up newspaper style, the program delivers “top” stories for the industries LinkedIn has associated with your professional profile. The stories are a mix of items shared by your network, your peers and “professionals” (ie, everyone else) and mostly they appear to be gleaned from Twitter.

At a glance, there appears to be a lot of options and levels of information that you can narrow down yourself with a variety of check boxes. However, a lot of what you’ll find here is just more noise and clutter. For example, some stories have a small blue banner with a number. Click this and you’ll see a list of people who shared this link on Twitter. You could use this list to find new people to follow on Twitter, so that’s helpful.

Coming Soon: Groupon Buttons on the Cash Register

Using your Groupon coupon for 50% off today? No problem, sir. I’ll just hit this button on the cash register and the machine will do the math for me.

Oh yes, according to Bloomberg Businessweek, Groupon is in talks with the major cash register manufacturers to have Groupon buttons added to all their machines.

The article goes on to say that Groupon is testing a number of avenues that “will let merchants account more efficiently for Groupon transactions and returns.”

Returns? Didn’t know you could do that? I’d like to return this tan, please. It’s a bit too orange for my liking. . .

Groupon is big, but is it that big that they need their own button? Says Bloomberg,

Advertising Comes to Skype

Put this one in the “surprised it hasn’t happened before now column,” Skype will start showing ads on their desktop application beginning this week.

Skype says that the 650 x 170 pixel ads will run only on the profile home page but given that they added an enormous, useless box to the top of their chat screens, it’s likely that this will soon be ad space, too.

Despite the amount of real estate the ads will take up, they really aren’t that intrusive as long as they remain graphical. But Skype says they’ll be happy to run video ads and that can get annoying seeing as the whole purpose of the app is to communicate (listen) to others. If customers have to wait for the car commercial to end before they can dial, that’s going to be a problem.