Before the start of the 2011 Academy Awards show hosted by James Franco and Anne Hatheway, Franco was tweeting live video clips of himself from backstage. Right before the show was set to begin, Franco turned to the camera and said, "This could be great, or this can be really reallybad." It was an epic train wreck, of course -- one that still haunts the actor today. At just about that same time period, executives at premium publishers were sitting around conference room tables reviewing site traffic numbers, and were likely surprised at the steady rise in the number of …
Online publishers have begun to rely increasingly on quantitative methods to help them run their businesses. On one hand, statistical measures such as time on site, click-through rate and bounce rate can help publishers assess the health of their sites. On the other hand, some publishers become overly focused and dependent on metrics, and they forget that behind those metrics are individual readers.
Several years ago, when people really cared about Windows vs. Mac OS, I heard a joke that went something like this: "If cars were designed by Microsoft, we would constantly have to stop to reboot them." Today, I am compelled to make a different joke: "If our highways were designed by advertisers, billboards would jump in the middle of the highway whenever we tried to drive by."
Who is the most important person in online publishing? Any guesses? Let's start with the wrong answers first. It's not Mark Zuckerberg or Sheryl Sandberg. It's not Larry Page or Sergey Brin, either.