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Five lessons from the Glassdoor acquisition

In what is both one of the bigger tech acquisitions and recruitment stories of the year, the Japanese firm Recruit Holdings is set to buy Glassdoor in a deal worth $1.2bn. The buyer, which also owns recruitment site Indeed.com, will gain access to a vast database of employee reviews, salary data and a huge volume of active job seekers. Glassdoor is also the second-largest job site in the US – the largest being Indeed – so the synergies are obvious, especially if the new owner opts to further integrate the two sites. Whether this justifies the gigantic valuation is another question entirely – the barrier to entry for new rivals doesn’t seem especially high to me, leaving the sector very open to further disruption. But Glassdoor, which has 30m members worldwide, is already growing faster than LinkedIn, Indeed and Monster, so what lessons can employers learn from it?

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How media brands build successful e-commerce strategies

It’s not enough for media businesses to be a one-trick pony any more. Outside of the rare Nordic publishers who got into online classifieds early, there are few companies of significant scale who can sustain themselves only through advertising.

Exactly what it says on the tin

While some have gone the business information route, like Skift and other companies in high-value verticals like travel or fashion, an increasing number of media companies are placing their faith in e-commerce.

Put simply, organisations like BuzzFeed and Refinery29 are betting on the relationship with readers and ecosystems they’ve created on their own sites to sell products. There are a number of ways publishers are going about that, whether it’s

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The power of the hidden internet

Can you name the website that receives the most hits in the UK after Google, YouTube and Facebook? Clue: it’s not the BBC, Amazon or Wikipedia. It is Reddit. On average, people also spend more time on Reddit than any other website in the top fifty.

Read it?

The dangers of social media are a hot topic at the moment. Whilst the pros and perils of Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat are openly discussed, less commonly mentioned are the so-called ‘hidden’ forums like Reddit, Voat and 4Chan.

The hidden internet is creating safe space for people to express opinions they would not feel comfortable discussing in real life and risking real life relationships. They can help previously

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Frenemies forever: Future fights between media owners and platforms

With all the noise from Google and Facebook over projects to help fund journalism, from the Digital News Initiative to Facebook’s forays into funding local journalism, you might think that those giants are finally putting their weight behind an industry that they’ve been accused of undermining.

At least pretend you mean it…

Similarly, as publishers abandon scale in pursuit of subscription models, you can easily believe that news publishers and search and social giants are no longer in direct competition for ad money and that therefore the lopsided competition between the two is at an end.

Both of those statements are true, to an extent. Google and Facebook are

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Show me the games!

We have long argued that the games industry should be treated as seriously as those other pillars of the entertainment business, film and music. Government seems to be getting the message, and – as we reported last month – the figures certainly stack up.

But perhaps the BBC is still struggling with the idea of games as a grown-up industry in its own right. When the industry does get coverage (on the Today show, for example), the presenters are typically as well informed as, say, a US senator facing a Facebook Chief Executive.

And then there was last week’s broadcast of the BAFTA Games Awards ceremony. If there is one thing

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Archiving the internet: content for posterity

Back in January the Guardian redesigned its website, bringing a suite of small quality of life improvements to its digital audience’s experience to coincide with the launch of the paper in tabloid format. The redesign has been fairly well-received, but the Guardian – and other sites that have altered the front- and back-ends of their sites – have inadvertently stumbled upon what is becoming an acute issue around preservation of content online.

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Disney’s strategy and what it means for broadcast

Last week it was reported that Rupert Murdoch, as part of his attempt to buy 100% of Sky, may attempt to sell Sky News to Disney in order to keep regulators happy. It has subsequently emerged that Disney may have to bid for the entirety of Sky if the Competition and Markets Authority quashes Murdoch’s bid. While the debate in this country has focused predominantly on Murdoch’s endgame, relatively little attention has been paid to what Disney would be looking to gain here.

Take your pic…

Disney’s ambitions highlight several trends within the wider TV sector; they appear to be realising the hitherto missed tricks of traditional broadcasters when staving off the ‘threat’ of SVOD providers such as Netflix and Amazon. And they have plenty of reason to do so.

During the first quarter of this year, FierceCable reported, “Disney’s media networks operating income fell 12% to $1.2 billion due to sagging performance by Hulu [reported as equity], A+E and the broadcasting segment.” Pay-TV has generally found itself lagging behind

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What can news publishers learn from the success of the Nintendo Switch?

Modern media, to some extent, is just a series of stunts and marketing materials.

News publishers have to compete with digital outlets who, by nature of the race to scale, sell their content with hyperbole and screaming rhetoric of the sort we used to call ‘clickbait’. Even BuzzFeed, whose news wing is consistently breaking some of the biggest stories of any given week, used to indulge in this.

Switch your thinking…

Consequently even the legacy publishers find themselves dragged further towards that hysterical drive to be noticed. Take The Atlantic, the US-based publication whose work and business model other publishers look upon with envy. Last month, it appointed the arch-conservative columnist Kevin Williamson, as a stunt intended to broaden its appeal, though it was dressed up as an attempt to provide balanced coverage. Unsurprisingly,

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How publishers should approach the podcast as a medium

There have been many moments where podcasts have been heralded as having ‘arrived’: The Guardian publishing the first series of The Ricky Gervais Podcast in 2005, the founding of Midroll Media in 2014, the first series of Serial in the same year  and the launch of the GE-sponsored The Message in 2015 have all been pointed to as the moment the medium really took off.

Podcasts and radio are converging into ‘audio’ – what does that mean for publishers?

The truth, as I discussed with podcast expert Vanessa Quirk on an episode of Media Voices last year, is that there really was no moment you can point to as being the singular point at which podcasting became viable for publishers and media companies. Even the so-called ‘Serial effect’

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Cricket’s ball-tampering controversy is about bad employment practices

Out.

The ball-tampering issue is not just about cheating in sport. It is about bad employment practices.  It is about abuse of power.

For those not familiar with or interested in cricket, stick with it. There are some lessons to be learned for wider business here. Briefly, though, there was a cricket match between South Africa and Australia in which the Australian team were caught cheating. The technicalities are unimportant. The important thing is that in this case, a young cricketer, with only eight matches under his belt, was apparently cornered by a member of the ‘leadership group’ and asked to cheat for the ‘good’ of the team.

In normal employment terms, Cameron Bancroft, the man caught scuffing the ball and then lying about it, is an apprentice, or someone still serving his probation period. The player who approached him, it seems, was the vice-captain, David Warner. Let’s call him

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Diversity in the Theatre Workforce

Earlier this year The Stage reported on an arts council report which stated “BAME and disabled staff still ‘significantly underrepresented’ in theatre.”  In 2016 The Guardian reported on another arts council report with the headline ‘Number of BAME arts workers must improve.’

So why is this still a problem?

Theatre has a history of pushing boundaries and opening doors.  Broadway’s hit musical Hamilton casts black, rapping performers into the role of one of America’s founding fathers, the white Alexander Hamilton. Graeae Theatre Company champion the inclusion

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New opportunities amid falling TV ad spend

The US linear television industry has hit ‘permanent recession‘ in terms of the proportion of the total ad spend it commands, according to Magna. The rapid rise of digital ad spend has necessarily come at the expense of other areas and television, despite its reputation for delivering the best ROI of any medium, is no longer looking quite so unassailable. Mediapost’s Joe Mandele writes:

“‘National television ad sales will decline between -2% to -3% going forward,’ Magna concludes.

The picture is not any prettier for the local TV ad marketplace, and with the exception of election years, Magna does not expect any growth for local TV at all.”

The same is true to a lesser degree in the UK, where AA/Warc predictions in January put the % YOY change in television ad-spent at -2, even including the 11.4% increase in ad spend against VOD. That’s despite

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There is no such thing as ‘The Duopoly’

George Orwell wrote that jargon and obfuscating language contributes to the degradation of the English language to the point that meaningful dialogue is impossible.

One of many Google HQs

He might have had a point, too: The term ‘fake news’, which the Reuters Institute recommended should be stripped from conversation around online misinformation, was meaningless almost as soon as it was born, allowing it to be hijacked by politicians with an anti-media bent. One of the people who coined it, BuzzFeed’s Craig Silverman, has admitted culpability in that (though he can’t really be blamed for not predicting how it was to be co-opted), and I’ve been arguing it should be retired as a term since August of last year. Because it was jargon, ‘fake news’ has made discourse about misinformation impossible.


‘Millennial’, too, has drawn ire as being completely useless as a description of an entire generation’s habits and trends. It has led to

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Books: print media’s last stand

Quite rightly, there was a celebratory air to last week’s IPG conference. While the trend for most media sectors is reported as gloomy, book sales have been consistently growing for the last few years.

Stronger than they look

According to Mintel, 74% of Brits bought or read / listened to a book in 2016/17. The Publishers Association reported record sales of books and journals in the same period, rising to £4.8bn. Sales in both print and digital categories are up – with print consumption massively dominating the UK market (around 90% of copy sales).

So why are print books outlasting their physical counterparts in other media sectors? Well,

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What are the opportunities for a digital-only NME?

Old musical express

Another week, another print closure. Or, to put it in the euphemistic terms of the press releases: Another week, another refocusing on digital strengths.

The New Musical Express (NME) is shuttering its print operation after a much-publicised move to a free distribution model in summer 2015 which was designed to boost the magazine’s attractiveness to advertisers through an increase in circulation. In the announcement,

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ITV and WPP – similar problems, similar solutions

Shares in both ITV and WPP have fallen dramatically following their latest results. In both cases, this can be put down to the habitual complacency of a market leader. Neither business has been quick enough to restructure, nor trail-blazing in its digital offering. Neither have understood the major threats to their businesses through the duopoly of Google and Facebook.

Looking up?

So while there are obvious similarities in the business failings, the stories at the top of the businesses differ markedly. WPP is still helmed by its leader of 32 years, Martin Sorrell. ITV, after years of Adam Crozier’s stewardship, has a new CEO in Carolyn McCall.

McCall, the former CEO of the Guardian, has most recently been running EasyJet. She has seen advertising as both seller and buyer, and has hands-on experience of the value of data in her last role. As Simon English points out in the Standard, McCall is

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At last, good news for the entertainment retail industry

In a recent blog, we looked at the threat Brexit represents to the future of the UK creative industries, focusing mainly on the games industry – and for a very good reason: the UK games retail market is now a £3.35bn industry, its sales now almost equal to that of home sales for music and video combined.

Other cards are available

But this blog perhaps missed the wider, refreshingly positive story about the state of the entertainment market as a whole.  For many years, reports have suggested

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YouTube and ‘fake news’: The end of algorithm opacity?

There’s a predictable rhythm to the online aftermath of any sort of mass shooting. After the initial outpouring of sympathy and grief, you can expect the media coverage to turn to the reactions of the alt-right, both through morbid curiosity and a genuine attempt to explain how conspiracy theories get disseminated online. As sure as The Onion publishes its savage takedown of the Republican response to mass shootings, you can expect the exposés of reddit’s r/The_Donald subreddit to follow.

Things were no different in the immediate aftermath of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Valentines Day.

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How do you cover a problem like Facebook?

It has been [0] days since a media analyst wrote about Facebook.

Back when I was news editor for TheMediaBriefing, we had an editorial matrix designed to ensure we wrote about the different topics which our segmented audiences were most interested in. It was carefully constructed, with the sort of care you might take over a house of cards or a matchstick model, so that B2B, B2C, digital pureplays, platforms and the like all got equal prominence on the homepage.

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Trinity Mirror and Express Newspapers: Death, taxes and media consolidation

When news broke last week that Express Newspapers and its titles the Daily Express, the Daily Star and their Sunday editions were back up for sale, the sense I had was that the other shoe had finally dropped. The only linked buyer, Trinity Mirror, had been in talks with Richard Desmond’s media empire-ette about the acquisition three years ago, only for the discussions to collapse over a dispute about pensions.

Although a Trinity Mirror spokesman hedged about the exact date the £127m takeover bid would go through, saying “there’s still some way to go. This is not yet a done deal”, the reality is that those titles, plus celebrity title OK! magazine, will almost certainly be helping to prop up Trinity Mirror’s business very shortly (Friday if you believe the reports). There’s too much synergy between the two companies’ strengths and their needs for it to be otherwise.

Trinity Mirror (which happens to also be in the news this week for another, less savoury reason) still needs to make savings. At the same time it is very keen to expand its portfolio and create a genuine national-to-local appeal to advertisers, as can be seen by its acquisition of regional newspaper group Local World. And just as with Local World, a big part of the appeal of the Northern & Shell assets is that it can conduct significant backroom synergy while retaining the coverage and scale.

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Managing expectations in an age of overblown media valuations

You could argue that the most important skill of any media leader is the ability to temper expectations. Everyone’s constantly looking for the next unicorn, and as soon as some hot new thing appears suddenly everyone’s on the accelerator and nobody’s on the brakes. The next step is typically a sky-high valuation and successive rounds of VC investment – followed by a tepid or downright chilly response when the property takes longer than expected to find its feet or fails to deliver a return.

Look at what happened with Mashable, which sold for a fifth of its Spring 2016 valuation of $250m at the end of last year, and which had staked its fortune on the ability to reach a generalist audience at huge scale. When it sold to Ziff Davis in a “fire sale” price in December, much of the analysis

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How Brexit uncertainty threatens the future of UK creative industries

Last week, it was reported that there are more unfilled job vacancies than ever before in the British economy. As of November 2017, there were  810,000 unfilled vacancies in the UK – an increase of 60,000 on the previous year.

For all employers, that deserves a moment of reflection. But for employers of highly skilled workers, such as programmers, the current situation threatens to become a crisis as uncertainty over the direction of Brexit creeps in.

Global Talent Competitiveness Index.

The challenge of attracting talent to the UK is underlined by the latest Global Talent Competitiveness Index (GTCI), which shows the UK has dropped from 3rd place in 2017, to 8th place this year.  The rumours and uncertainty surrounding our future relationship with the European union are evidently making the UK a less attractive place to work.

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The Guardian relaunch underlines insignificance of print

The lack of noise – positive or negative – about the relaunch of the tabloid Guardian last week underlines just how irrelevant print is becoming to the newspaper market.

Tabloid, but not a tabloid.

Of course, it is also true that The Guardian is the last of the broadsheets – other than the Telegraph, which it seems will go to its grave in the larger format – to go tabloid or abandon print altogether. And given the perilous finances of the newspaper’s owners, GMG, this shift has been seen as inevitable after 13 years of the paper’s ruinously costly Berliner format (GMG made losses before exceptional items of £45m on turnover of £214m last year).

But the figures speak for themselves. Only 20% of the

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Journalism: young writers are being denied a proving ground

Every other week brings a new closure of some beloved digital publisher. This week, it was The Awl and its sister site The Hairpin, which announced their closure with a muted sort of triumph. In its final post, ‘Awl Ends’, The Awl made the case that it had for years delivered upon its promise of making people ‘less stupid’, and that the internet and digital publishing in general would be worse because of its absence:

“For nearly a decade we followed a dream of building a better Internet, and though we did not manage to do that every day we tried very hard and we hope you don’t blame us for how things ultimately turned out.”

Nobody could possibly blame The Awl or the many great writers who got their first real exposure on the platform for its closure, or for the growing dearth of a proving ground for young journalists online. It was an idiosyncratic site that defied definition, equal parts blogging platform, battlement for avante-garde satire, and petri dish for a form of New Journalism. Writing of its closure for NPR, Glen Weldon argues that The Awl and The Hairpin were the successors to a long line of renowned titles:

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Nintendo Labo: Innovation and sustainability in the gaming industry

Nintendo Switch has just become America’s fastest selling home games console selling 4.8m units in 10 months since launch.  This exceeded the previous record of 4m units, also held by Nintendo for its Wii.  (To blow our own trumpet for a moment, we had predicted in a previous blog at its launch that the Switch “could set the gaming world alight.”)

Nintendo Labo: DIY at its finest

Not content with that, though, Nintendo announced its innovative new IP ‘Labo’ about which the press are already writing “this latest idea is so crazy it might just work” and “how small our imaginations were, and how glorious it is to be blindsided by Nintendo again.”

So, what is Nintendo doing that other companies aren’t, and what can we all learn from them?

In short, Nintendo has

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Holding platforms to account in 2018: Part Two

Well, the best-laid plans of mice and men…

Only one week since we mooted the possibility that 2018 would be the year Facebook and Google would be held to account as publishers, Mark Zuckerberg stymies our plans for a part two by announcing that Facebook would no longer be a platform for quality news. It’s hard to imagine a neater sidestepping of an issue.

In the latest Monday note, Frederic Filloux points out that publishers in Europe have a tendency

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Holding platforms to account in 2018: Part One

Late last year a taxi drivers’ organisation in Barcelona successfully challenged Uber’s assertion that it is not primarily a transport company. The European Court of Justice ruled in the taxi drivers’ favour, throwing out Uber’s argument that it was first and foremost a digital service, noting that since Uber was central to the operation of the taxi-like service, it was more than simply an intermediary.

The ruling comes at a particularly interesting time for media companies in the UK. As Jason Moyer-Lee, general secretary of the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain, said:

“Today’s judgment made clear, as a matter of law, what everyone already knew as a matter of common sense: Uber provides transportation services, not technology services.”

Part of the problem media companies have with platforms like Google and Facebook is a clash of definitions. It’s well publicised that neither of the Duopoly consider themselves

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The most important skill for journalists in 2018

Scan any job site for journalism roles and you’ll notice the same required skills and qualifications pop up more often than not. NCTJ certified degree or equivalent. Shorthand. Self-starter with a keen news sense.

Those are all useful skills, and in the ever more competitive world of journalism successful applicants will need to tick every single box. The issue is that many of the jobs advertised that way are for generalist news reporter positions, and there’s no position more vulnerable in an age where many publishers are cutting back on editorial staff than the generalist news reporter. It’s still possible to find yourself a niche, particularly if you’re lucky enough to work for a specialist publication, but those positions are becoming rarer, especially for journalists new to the industry.

The reality is that as a result of the erosion of beat journalism in favour of creating mass-appeal general content, often journalists are distinguished less by the topics on which they are an expert and more on the way they can tell stories, whether that’s through creating video, data visualisations, social campaigns or a news game. Establishing yourself as a master of one of those disciplines is a great way to ameliorate the risk of redundancy.

But there’s an even more vital skill for journalists in 2018, one that’s related to the reasons why the generalist journalist is at risk…

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The age of ‘audience-first’ publishing needs a fresh set of metrics

At the tail end of 2017 many round-ups and prediction pieces (including my own) confidently asserted that 2018 will be the age of ‘audience-first’ publishing. It sounds an unnecessary description – surely publishing has always put audiences at the heart of their strategies – but it means something very tangible, and something that will hugely impact the media landscape over the next few months.

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2018 will see the ‘quality revolution’ for digital advertising

There are any number of predictions for media priorities in 2018 floating around. As with last year’s predictions some will be on point, some will miss the mark, and some will appear laughably naive by the time January 2019 arrives.

Almost certainly, all the predictions will be subject to Amara’s Law – that we overestimate the effect of a technology in the short-term and underestimate it in the long-term. As an example, we saw disappointment with early implementations of A.I. chatbots this year because of early hype around the technology, but the bots have been ubiquitous – and delivering significant revenue – since the middle of this year.

This year has also been the year of the ‘pivot to video’, a term that was used so widely and so often that it became

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