Convergence Newsletter

From Newsplex at the University of South Carolina

Vol. III No. 11 (May 9, 2006)

 

Commenting on Convergence

 

By Jordan Storm, editor of The Convergence Newsletter

 

While the traditional tenets of journalism continue to guide the profession, an ever-growing number of multimedia platforms are forcing the journalism industry to adapt in order to stay relevant. This issue of The Convergence Newsletter highlights three forward-thinking individuals’ thoughts on convergence in the field.

 

Dick Moore, vice president of news at WKYC-TV in Cleveland, shares some of the challenges of working with multiple media in a broadcast newsroom, while Tom Priddy, online content manager of www.GoUpstate.com, the Web site of Spartanburg, S.C.’s Herald-Journal, details how multimedia implementation can result in better storytelling. Lastly, Cheryl Harris, associate professor of advertising at the University of South Carolina, outlines the state of interactive advertising brought on by multimedia platforms. Her piece, in particular, foreshadows some of the issues journalists and audience members alike will face as media platforms continue to create additional opportunities for interfacing between the public and the product.

 

View past newsletters at http://www.jour.sc.edu/news/convergence/.

 

Jordan Storm is working toward a Master of Arts degree at the University of South Carolina. Contact her at convergence-editor@mailbox.sc.edu.

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Feature Articles

 

The Next Level

 

Accidental Convergence

 

Interactive Advertising

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Conference Information

 

Newsplex Summer Seminar Series

 

ICA: Networking Communication Research Conference

 

AEJMC Convention

 

SPJ Convention & National Journalism Conference

 

Convergence and Society: Ethics, Religion and New Media

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---------------Feature Articles

 

The Next Level 

 

By Dick Moore, vice president, news division, WKYC-TV, Cleveland.

(Editors Note: In Fall, 2006, Dick Moore will join the University of South Carolina as an associate professor in the broadcast sequence.)

 

Nearly a decade has passed since the movement began within this and many other television newsrooms to launch new media under the same roof. What at first was a simple Internet brand extension has grown in complexity and importance to include other new media and competition head-on for station resources.

    

New media expectations are now growing even larger as overall mainstream television audience levels grow smaller. But the trend in mainstream media is to trim staff positions as revenues flatten or decline. That’s putting more work on the shoulders of fewer people and pushing the outer limits of what might be expected in a world of converged media responsibilities.  

So far we’ve been successful in re-engineering newsroom workflow to leverage more daily content onto the Web. Newscast producers rotate through the day taking hourly responsibility for updating Web content; reporters carry picture phones to capture images that accompany versions of stories they file specifically for the Web; photographers shoot video and then create their own Web photo galleries; and anchors and some beat reporters create Web logs and host Web chats. Is that kind of effort going to be enough, and will our current dependence on converged job responsibilities be sufficient to keep us competitive as we push even farther with development of new media?

 

My sense is that it won’t be. The Fox television station group recently announced that it would re-launch Web sites of its owned and operated station group by hiring separate Web staffs, some with as many as five editorial positions and others dedicated to sales and marketing. Their stated intention is to re-brand station Web sites to become a much more personal “MyFox.com.”  The sites will be heavy on daily local news video and will include national and international content from FoxNews.com, FoxSports.com, Sky News and RottenTomatoes.com. Until now, Fox’s Web development has lagged behind, but it’s apparently about to jump ahead.

 

The significance of a plan to create a separate Web staff is in the recognition that there are finite limits to what can be accomplished through multi-tasking. In spite of best efforts, there are only so many tasks that can be accomplished at one time. And when the chips are down, television-trained producers tend to default to what they know best. The Web takes a back seat. As long as that’s the case, its dependability and growth will be limited.

 

In some respects the Fox development represents a swing of the pendulum back in the direction of where we first started. A separate and specially-trained staff was a necessary resource to get started in new media. It might be a necessary part of taking things to the next level.

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Accidental Convergence

 

By Tom Priddy, Online Content Producer, www.GoUpstate.com and the Spartanburg Herald-Journal

 

This is a story of accidental convergence. Or, accidentally, a story about convergence. 

It's nothing more than a tale about a guy who likes writing stories, playing with new toys, and occasionally flying without a net. And if somewhere along the line you see that as a backward way of my getting into convergence, then so be it. I can't take any credit for planning it out. It just happened.

 

As a young reporter 30-some years ago, I covered a two-county area for The Greenville News, and that meant taking my own photos when the story required it. And it often did.

  

It also meant getting the film to the Greyhound station in time for the 5 o'clock bus to Greenville. Once there, someone in the lab had to process and print my film, decipher my scrawled caption information ("I think I got a picture of the mayor around frame 6 or 7") and pass it along to the copy desk. All in a day's work.

 

Jump to last month at my job at the Spartanburg Herald-Journal, where I'm now an online producer. I went to an open house at West End Field in Greenville, a new ballpark where the local Class A club would be playing. I covered the story, took photos, interviewed the principals – and gathered some natural sound with my new toy, an Olympus DS-2 digital recorder.

  

I wrote a story for print, passed along one photo to the sports editor, then edited the audio and photos and created an audio slideshow for our Web site, GoUpstate.com.

 

Seems like a logical progression to me. The toys are a little newer now, but the goal is no different than it was when I was a cub reporter: it's all about the story. What's the real story, and how can we tell it in an interesting way so that the largest number of people can see it (or feel it or hear it)? We just have more ways of getting the story out these days.

 

When I worked for Knight Ridder’s new media guru Roger Fidler years ago, he tried his best to educate me in the ways of academia, scholarly writing and long-range planning. But it didn't really take. If it had, I might be writing about convergence, newsroom restructuring and workflow. I'll have to leave that to someone else.

 

Here's what I do know: we have some amazing new ways of telling stories today, and I'm going to enjoy trying them out. But to me, that doesn't mean I always have to do everything myself, nor does it mean that every reporter has to become a photographer or sound engineer.

  

Here are two examples: First, Herald-Journal business writer Susan Orr wanted to write a Sunday piece on Jamie Simpson, the spokesperson for the Rug & Home Store in Gaffney, a job that turned her into a media celebrity in upstate South Carolina. Susan wrote the story and gathered natural sound, Herald-Journal photographer Mike Bonner shot a slew of photos (coached a bit my me, who said "shoot everything"), and I put it all together for an audio slideshow. In addition, there was the traditional Sunday business piece with photos, an RSS feed and a blurb in our e-mail newsletter. The entire package was teased on the GoUpstate front by our new media chief, Andy Rhinehart (http://www.goupstate.com).

 

Second, our statehouse reporter, Robert W. Dalton, went to the Gulf with some church volunteers who spent their spring break repairing houses damaged by Katrina. Andy and I asked him to take more photos than he would need for print, and to record some interviews and the sounds of the construction. Again, I put the audio slideshow together. The result was the same as with the Jamie Simpson piece: a very good story told in several ways using the technology we have available and involving a large number of journalists (http://www.goupstate.com).

 

Although I enjoy doing everything myself (I once got kicked out of a composing room for meddling with the page proofs), I don't think every journalist has to become a jack of all trades in order to take advantage of all the great new ways we have to distribute our stories. But you have to be willing to try new things and establish strong working relationships.

 

And all of us just have to understand that not everyone wants to sit down with a cup of coffee and a newspaper in the morning any more. We have to find those readers wherever they've gone. That's our challenge, and it's going to be a lot of fun figuring it out. Somebody else can do the white paper about it, though.

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What is Interactive Advertising?

  

By Cheryl Harris, associate professor, School of Journalism and Mass Communications, University of South Carolina

  

With varying degrees of permitted response and functionality, interactive advertising offers viewers the opportunity to interact with ads by requesting additional information, expressing opinions and/or making purchases. Interactive advertising must be sufficiently persuasive to generate a response from the viewer. Increasingly, it appears that effective advertising in the convergent media age is advertising that has been customized or personalized to fit the current preferences of the viewer. In general, advertisers have learned that “one size fits all” advertising generates much lower response rates than targeted ads. As the digital platforms for Interactive Television (ITV) or Internet Protocol Television (IPTV) come online, some advertisers are already experimenting with various types of customization and personalization that will be coupled with interactive response functions.

   

There are several years of successful interactive advertising campaign implementations in European and British ITV and more than a decade of accumulated knowledge acquired from Internet advertising experience that has emphasized interactivity as a key function from its inception. Internet advertising practitioners believe that the campaigns that receive the highest response rates are also those that take advantage of personalization options such as collaborative filtering, behavioral targeting, and other types of profiling and customization.

 

It is worth noting, however, that there is no clear agreement on what constitutes interactivity, or that it is compelling quality for users (Harris, 1997). Despite the apparent success of interactive advertising on test platforms such as ITV (Lee, 2005), there remain many unexamined assumptions about interactivity and the value of personalization that require much more rigorous theoretical frameworks and evaluation. At least one study that examined the perceived value of personalization and interactive content reported “mixed results,” finding that too much choice diminished impact (Varan, 2004).

 

Types of Interactive Advertising

There are numerous categories of interactive advertising executions varying by medium. Internet advertising alone has several modes, from banner advertising, pop-up/pop-under, interstitial (an ad that appears as an interim display between a page request and the delivery of the requested page), and search-engine advertising (ad messages appearing within a page of search results, and which ideally relate directly to the keywords/topic for which the user is searching.) The popularity, and effectiveness, of search engine advertising has displaced the majority of ad dollars in other types of Internet advertising for the moment. Similarly, interactive television has developed various types of advertising messages, offers, and strategies, such as the “Dedicated Advertiser Location” (DAL) button on a handset, for which premium rates are charged to advertisers (Morrisey, 2005; Lee, 2005.)

  

If we categorize interactive advertising in terms of the response desired, or capability delivered, rather than the form of the ad, we have a more functional typology identifying the function and description of interactive advertising:

 

= Jump: Viewer may go to a location (i.e., a Web site, product catalog, order form, etc.) via a link; can include sponsored content.

 

= Tag: Tag a message, offer, site, or piece of content for later access.

 

=Direct Response: Viewer interaction results in a direct purchase opportunity or may trigger a follow-up sales call.

 

=Poll: Engage viewer through poll or quiz question(s.) May feed back results in real-time to further engage viewer.

 

=Gaming: Engage viewer through gaming activity. May include incentives or rewards.

 

=Opt-in Rewards: Viewer response patterns are aggregated and often displayed onscreen; response targets are rewarded with various incentives, such as discounts or free merchandise.

 

=Targeted: Viewer profile (demographic, psychographic, behavioral, etc.) triggers customized message and/or offer.

 

=Authorial: A variation on gaming; viewer is invited to contribute to, or reshape content in real time, as in interactive storytelling applications; be partnered with a specific offer or in a “sponsored content” format, with links to information or offers. 

 

A central premise of Internet advertising practice has been that the longer the viewer is encouraged to remain in the advertising and/or retailing environment and, ideally, the more they engage with the content/features of that environment, the more likely they are to buy. Similarly, the interactive television model values “dwell-time” and correlates it with higher response rates (Lee, 2005).

  

Interactive advertising development and implementation across multiple platforms has been slower than expected for a variety of reasons, including the uneven distribution of broadband access, inconsistent audience research results and viewer privacy/security concerns. Targeting and analytics technologies that would facilitate interactive advertising have also been considered immature by many experts.

 

Still, the ability of interactive advertising to connect consumers directly and immediately to ad messages in a variety of highly customizable formats continues to fuel development of the medium. Most major advertising agencies now have at least one subsidiary unit working solely on interactive advertising, and in the U.S. agencies dedicated to advertising applications in the coming ITV environment, such as Ensequence (headquartered in Portland, Oregon), are also cropping up.  In 2005 and 2006, advertisers reported moving more dollars to interactive advertising, away from traditional media, which contributed to renewed interest in interactive advertising innovation.

  

Industry Standards

Traditional advertising/marketing industry trade groups, such as the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) and Association of National Advertisers (ANA), have established guidelines for interactive advertising practitioners. Within the past 5-10 years, new industry associations, such as the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) have emerged to facilitate the development of the medium.

 

These guidelines cover a wide variety of issues, but dominant among them are practices associated with creative execution, lead generation, and privacy protections. Some industry practitioners believe that the aggressive, and sometimes fraudulent, tactics of e-mail marketers have tainted the interactive advertising industry. Other concerns include the use of network-delivered software spiders, bots, agents, and Trojans that collect consumer data without the knowledge of the user. Consequently, industry standards for legitimate interactive advertising have striven to emphasize consumer protections.

   

Industry guidelines include a focus on “opt-in” or permission-based advertising, whereby consumers receive ad messages and offers only in response to a specific request. This rules out indiscriminate ad placements and “spamming” and, in effect, forces the advertiser to integrate consumer profiling and targeting efforts within the interactive environment. Other guidelines have been definitional: what constitutes an “impression” in interactive advertising terms, what is a valid “click through” and what may be considered a “sale” (IAB, 2006).

   

Establishing working definitions in the interactive advertising vocabulary is important because of the different monetary values placed on various types of interactive outcomes. So far, advertisers are willing to pay the highest rates for ad placements that result in direct sales, followed by click  throughs (which may include follow-up requests) and impressions.

    

Challenges Ahead

Response rates for interactive advertising are likely to be challenged by increased demand for consumer control of media delivery. For example, digital video recorders (DVR’s) allow viewers to time-shift programming and to avoid interstitial advertising.

  

Some studies suggest that “92% of ads are skipped” by DVR users, although TiVO’s research suggests that number is lower, but still in the range of a substantial 70%+ of viewing activity that involves skipping ads (Borland, 2005).  Foote Cone & Belding recently released a commercial for the Kentucky Fried Chicken chain that allows viewers to “crack a hidden message if they play the spot back slowly on a digital video recorder or VCR” (CNN.com, 2006).  This is an attempt to encourage DVR users to attend to the ads that research has shown so many would otherwise avoid.

   

TiVO was criticized when it announced in late 2004 an initiative that would superimpose banner ads and/or commercial logos over prerecorded advertising within shows through which the viewer was attempting to fast-forward. So far, it has not yet implemented this concept on a systemwide scale (Chapell,  2004). Other similar attempts to circumvent viewer ad-skipping will likely be seen in the coming months and years as advertisers experiment with the interactive advertising business models. At the same time, new devices are likely to continue to be introduced that allow consumers to further control media and to strip out advertising if desired. The pressure to produce engaging, immersive viewer experiences that contain advertising content that is relevant and compelling will only grow.

 

A recent study released by Frank Magid Associates demonstrated that consumers who own Apple iPods (or would like to buy one) would accept advertising in exchange for free downloads of TV shows and other content (Oser, 2006).  On April 10, 2006, Disney announced that it would make many of its most popular shows available online at no cost, although with especially encoded advertising that could not be “zapped” out (Reuters, 2006). CBS recently announced a plan to produce a 60-second program, scheduled during its evening primetime slot, which would end each mini-episode with a “cliffhanger.” The show, to be called The Courier, is intended to engage audiences so that they will not skip the advertising surrounding, or embedded within, the show itself (McClellan, 2006). Ad-sponsored “mobisodes” for delivery on mobile devices are also in active development. It is important to keep in mind, though, that many industry observers believe that ad-sponsored content may ultimately fail in a fully convergent, digitalized media world.  Threats include piracy, consumer-generated content, and the continuing fragmentation of audiences.

 

Despite the obvious challenges, advertisers are mostly optimistic about the outlook for interactive advertising. One aspect of particular interest is the potential to accurately and comprehensively measure consumer response. In a world where content will be delivered in a “converged,” networked environment, everything can be tracked and measured. Powerful data-mining techniques will allow advertisers to forecast and model response and fine-tune advertising executions with near-perfect knowledge. This would certainly represent a revolution in how media and advertising response has been assessed in the past. The providers of media audience data in this country, primarily Arbitron and Nielsen, are in a state of upheaval. Currently, neither has introduced an acceptable methodology for measuring portable device and personalized media delivery that can be easily correlated with viewer response, and for which their clients have been calling (McClellan, 2006; Whiting, 2006).

 

Advertisers have also been concerned about flaws in ad delivery and tracking technologies that can result in problems such as “click fraud,” or tactics by which competitors or others can improperly boost apparent response to an interactive ad, but which were not the result of a ‘true’ consumer response. The search-engine advertising leader Google recently paid more than $90 million to settle claims from advertisers that its ad delivery system did not prevent click fraud. (Newcomb, 2006).

 

GroupM CEO Irwin Gotlieb told Adweek that “next-generation screens and digital boxes will be enabled to produce higher ROI … and real-time optimization” and, consequently, more precise and accurate targeting of content and/or advertising. He also noted that the industry believes that digitalization of media delivery will “allow us to gather data in an entirely different way – at the census level as opposed to the sampling level” (McClellan, 2006).

 

Lessons learned from this kind of data could eventually allow advertisers and content providers to apply powerful behavioral targeting techniques that would further customize advertising messaging across several digital platforms. These same lessons might also be applicable to journalists attempting to add interactivity to their messages. 

 

References

 

Borland, J. (2005). What creature will succeed the couch potato? CNET News. Retrieved December 5, 2005, from http://news.com 

 

Chapell, A. (2004). TiVo 2.0. Retrieved November 30, 2004, from iMediaconnection.com 

 

CNN.com. (2006). What's the secret of that KFC commercial?  Ad designed to make viewers slow down -- viewing, anyway. Retrieved February 26, 2006. 

 

Harris,  C. (1997). Theorizing Interactivity. Marketing and Research Today, 25(4), 267-271. 

 

IAB.  (2006.) Interactive Advertising Bureau, http://www.iab.net.

 

Lee, J. (2005). An A-Z of interactive TV. Campaign, 13. 

 

McClellan, S., and Burgi, M. (2006, March 1, 2006). Adweek roundtable:  Media mixes it up. Adweek.com 

 

Morrissey, B. (2005, March 28). Can interactive TV revive the 30-second spot? Adweek.com 

 

Newcomb,  K.  (2006). Google to settle click fraud suit for $90 million.  ClickZ News.  Retrieved April 20, 2006, from http://www.clickz.com/news/article.php/3590251   

 

Oser, K. (2006, March 7). Most consumers would watch ad for free TV download. Advertising Age. 

 

Reuters. (2006). Disney to make TV shows available free on web.  Retrieved April 10, 2006. 

 

Varan, D. (2004, August). Consumer insights associated with interactive television. Retrieved March 10, 2006, from http://www.broadcastpapers.com/whitepapers/Consumer-Insights-Associated-with-Interactive-Television.cfm?objid=32&pid=576&fromCategory=44

   

Whiting, S. (2006, March 1). To our clients. In N. M. R. Clients (Ed.). New York: Nielsen Media Research. 

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---------------Conferences

 

The University of South Carolina School of Journalism and Mass Communications

Newsplex Summer Seminar Series

June 2006

Columbia, South Carolina USA

 

Two separate seminars will be held at Newsplex in June 2006, covering specific training in Web publishing and software operation. The seminars are: 

June 12-16, 2006: Web publishing in Convergent Journalism

June 26-30, 2006: Convergence Software Bootcamp 

 

For more information, or to reserve a spot, visit: http://Newsplex.sc.edu or e-mail Augie Grant: augie@sc.edu.

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International Communication Association

Networking Communication Research Conference

June 19-23, 2006

Dresden, Germany

http://www.icahdq.org/events/conference/2006/conf2006info.asp

 

Conference registration starts January 15, 2006.

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AEJMC Convention

August 2-5, 2006

San Francisco, CA USA

http://www.aejmc.org/convention/

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SPJ Convention & National Journalism Conference

August 24-26, 2006

Chicago, IL USA

http://spj.org/convention.asp

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University of South Carolina College of Mass Communication and Information Science and Newsplex

Convergence and Society: Ethics, Religion and New Media Conference

October 19-21, 2006

Columbia, SC USA

http://newsplex.sc.edu/newsplex_cfpapers06.html

  

Since September 11, ethics and religion have emerged as important topics in the study of new media. At this conference, the moral implications of emerging media are addressed at the levels of society, culture, and the media professions. It is a forum for scholars, media professionals and theologians to discuss converging media from the standpoint of competing values. Papers and panels may include institutional, content, audience, cultural, political and technological perspectives on media from the perspective of social responsibility. Abstracts, completed papers and panel proposals for this conference should deal with one or more of the following four themes:

 

= Ethics: Examination of current approaches to moral reasoning about convergence

= Values: Analysis of values related to converging technologies (i.e., information equity, privacy, diversity, etc.).

= Religiosity: How denominations are contributing to public and policy discussion of convergence and values.

= Media Convergence, including convergent journalism, technological convergence and audience behavior.  

 

The purpose of this conference is to provide a scholarly exploration of these issues individually and of the connections among them. Submission may address theory, history, media practice, social influences, cultural issues, legal implications and effects upon consumers.

Faculty and graduate students are invited to submit in one or more of three categories: completed papers, proposals or abstracts of papers in progress and proposals for panels.

 

Submissions may address practical, theoretical, phenomenological, critical and/or empirical approaches to any of the subjects listed above. All submissions will be reviewed by a jury that will consider: 1) relevance to the conference theme, 2) the quality of the contribution, and 3) overall contribution to the field. 

 

Submission guidelines:

=Electronic submissions (Word or RTF attachments) are encouraged (send to augie@sc.edu).

=Paper copies may be submitted: five paper copies of the submission should be mailed.

=A detachable cover page should be included with the title of the paper or panel and authors’ names, addresses, telephone numbers and e-mail addresses. For electronic submissions, the cover page should be in a separate file.

=Submissions deadline (postmark) is June 15, 2006. All submissions will be jury-reviewed with notification to authors and organizers on or before July 31, 2006. 

 

For registration and further information about this academic conference, visit the conference Web site at: http://Newsplex.sc.edu.  

 

Papers, proposals, abstracts and panel proposals should be addressed to:

Augie Grant, Conference Chair

ERNM Conference

College of Mass Communications and Information Studies

Carolina Coliseum

Columbia, SC 29208

e-mail: augie@sc.edu

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---------------Announcements/News 

Publishing a book about convergence? The Convergence Newsletter regularly publishes information about new and upcoming books on convergent journalism. Send your submissions to convergence-editor@mailbox.sc.edu. +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ 

 

---------------Publisher and Editorial Staff  

The Convergence Newsletter is free and published by The College of Mass Communications and Information Studies at the University of South Carolina. 

 

Executive Editor

Augie Grant, Ph.D.

augie@sc.edu  

 

Editor                   Assistant Editor

Jordan Storm     Kelly Mitchell

convergence-news@mailbox.sc.edu 

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---------------Copyright and Redistribution

 

The Convergence Newsletter is Copyright © 2006 by the University of South Carolina, College of Mass Communications and Information Studies. All rights reserved.

This newsletter may be redistributed in any form - print or electronic - without edits or deletion of any content.

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---------------Formatting 

The Convergence Newsletter is optimized for 80 character display; you may need to reset the line length on the preferences menu of your e-mail program.

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---------------Submission Guidelines/Deadline Schedule

 

The Convergence Newsletter provides an editorially neutral forum for discussion of the theoretical and professional meaning of media convergence. We welcome articles of all sorts addressing the subject of convergence in journalism and media. We also accept news briefs, calls for papers and conference announcements. Our audience is both academics and professionals and the publication style is APA 7th edition. Feature articles should be 750 to 1,500 words; other articles should be 250 to 750 words; announcements and conference submissions should be 200 words. All articles should be submitted to The Convergence Newsletter editor at convergence-editor@mailbox.sc.edu. Please include your name, affiliation and contact information with your submission.  

 

The Convergence Newsletter is published the first week of each  month except January. Articles should be submitted at least 10 days prior to the publication date. Any questions should be sent to convergence-editor@mailbox.sc.edu.

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---------------Subscribe/Unsubscribe Information

 

To subscribe, unsubscribe or edit your information, please send a message to convergence-editor@mailbox.sc.edu or write to The Convergence Newsletter c/o School of Journalism and Mass Communications, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC 29208.