The Media Oxpecker: The Web’s Walking Dead

Every Friday we round up media & tech industry news you may have missed while you were busy trying to understand the Subscribe Button.

  • AOL, Microsoft and Yahoo have formed an unholy advertising alliance that will allow the companies to sell ad inventory on each other’s sites. Jeff Bercovici of Forbes says that while the companies “would love to put each other out of business,” the threat from Facebook and Google is too large to ignore:

    Basically, the rapid growth in display spending upon which AOL and Yahoo (and, to a lesser extent, Microsoft) have predicated their media strategies is happening — it’s just not benefiting them. Facebook and Google are hoarding it all to themselves. Any why shouldn’t they, when you consider that internet users now spend more than four times as much time on social networks as they do on portal sites? Joining forces won’t reverse any of these trends, but it just might buy them a little time to find a strategy that will work.

    It may not be enough to save AOL and Yahoo, however, which were anointed as “the Web’s walking dead” by BusinessWeek.

  • The Philadelphia Media Network is attempting to lure new readers by offering a $99 Android tablet to people who commit to a two-year digital subscription to the Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadelphia Daily News:

    The price of the device is bumped up to $129 if the customer opts for a one-year subscription. The two-year sub will run $9.99 a month and the one-year sub will be $12.99. Either way, the deal nearly gives the tablet away in order to get a subscriber on board.

  • The Boston Globe has created a brand new website with a responsive design. Responsive to what?

    The point of responsive design is not to be the world’s worst party trick — “Gather round, friends, while I resize my browser” — but to be a way to build a website that looks good and works well on a variety of screen sizes while maintaining one codebase. Instead of building a separate mobile site for smartphones (maybe several of them, since different phones have different dimensions), and then building something separate for tablets (vertical and horizontal, remember!), you get to build it just once and set rules for how it should gracefully change on larger or smaller screens. Since building different versions of a site is a huge pain, it rarely gets done, which is part of why the newspaper business is home to a collection of the world’s ugliest mobile sites.

  • Here are some tips on improving the “Most Popular Stories” section of your website.
  • The Wall Street Journal is expanding its live video programming, citing “huge” demand for video ads:

    For the most part the programs rely on The Journal’s existing staff. Readers and users “like seeing our reporters live. They like being able to go to places and see the things that our reporters can see. And technology allows us to do it now,” [deputy managing editor Alan] Murray said.

  • Being subsidized by a for-profit education company is all fun and games until its revenue starts falling.
  • Introducing HuffPo High School: Where children as young as 13 can enjoy the experience of unpaid blogging just like grown-ups.
  • HuffPo has also launched a local site for Washington, D.C., which, to the best of our knowledge, does not utilize child labor:

    Not surprisingly, there’s a lot of heavy duty aggregation here, including an irresistibly clicky headline “D.C. Rent Out of Control” that leads, confusingly, to WTOP’s main site, where there is no such story to be found.

  • Facebook’s ad czar sat down with VVM alum Alexia Tsotsis and described a future where nearly all Facebook ads are social. Following in the steps of Groupon, the social network is postponing its plans for an IPO.
  • Twitter announced a new analytical tool-kit “that helps website owners understand how much traffic they receive from Twitter and the effectiveness of Twitter integrations on their sites.”
  • A vast majority of decisions website owners make are based on faith rather than data, and it’s breaking Avinash Kaushik’s heart.
  • What is the “First Google+ API” and why is it a big deal? The Business Insider is on the case.
  • Jill Abramson has officially taken the editorial helm at The New York Times and is being received favorably by staff and media reporters alike.
  • What explains the recent hiring spree at Reuters? No reason, other than its ambition “to become the best journalism organization in the world.