Monday News: Facebook and Google’s massive traffic drive, Facebook tries to woo publishers, malware in ads, and audio of Beowulf in Old English
How Facebook and Google Now Dominate Media Distribution – A very interesting article from Frédéric Filloux and Jean-Louis Gassée arguing that Facebook and Google are the two major players in terms of channeling online traffic. Twitter, by contrast, is “minuscule,” in the authors’ words. The analysis is too detailed to summarize effectively in a few sentences, but it’s also relatively short, so I highly recommend taking a look at the whole piece, especially in light of the next story.
Consequences vary. Many great news brands today see their direct traffic — that is readers accessing deliberately the URL of the site — fall well below 50%. And the younger the media company (pure players, high-performing click machines such as BuzzFeed), the lower the proportion of direct access is – to the benefit of Facebook and Google for the most part. (As I write this, another window on my screen shows the internal report of a pure player news site: In August it only collected 11% in direct access, vs. 19% from Google and 24% from Facebook — and I’m told it wants to beef up it’s Facebook pipeline.) –Monday Note
Facebook Offers Life Raft, but Publishers Are Wary – Even as Facebook directs much traffic to both traditional and digital publishers (in the form of newspapers, magazines, etc.), its efforts to host publisher home pages are being met with resistance, David Carr argues. And despite the often poorly designed mobile interfaces readers have to navigate, there is understandable concern that becoming too enmeshed with and dependent on Facebook may not be a great idea. The Washington Post and Guardian’s previous experience with a Facebook plugin was not well-received by readers, so it will be interesting to see what happens now that Facebook is actively courting media and news providers.
I was in San Francisco a few weeks ago and bumped into an executive who works in mobile at Facebook. He wasn’t speaking for attribution, but he derided the approach that traditional publishers take to mobile devices, saying it made for an unpleasant user experience, hurt user engagement and crippled their efforts to make money in a smartphone world.
Facebook hopes it has a fix for all that. The company has been on something of a listening tour with publishers, discussing better ways to collaborate. The social network has been eager to help publishers do a better job of servicing readers in the News Feed, including improving their approach to mobile in a variety of ways. One possibility it mentioned was for publishers to simply send pages to Facebook that would live inside the social network’s mobile app and be hosted by its servers; that way, they would load quickly with ads that Facebook sells. The revenue would be shared. –New York Times
Malware-Infested Ads Now a Threat When Reading Online – So if possibly malware in digital books isn’t enough, now readers have to worry about maleware installed in ads that appear on high-traffic sites. And lest you think this is an anomalous situation, Proofpoint notes that its work yielded results indicating that “malvertsing was concentrated on 3 ad networks (Rubicon Project, Right Media / Yahoo Advertising, OpenX), and they noted that they found the malicious ads on AOL, Yahoo, 9GAG, and Match.com as well as news sites ranging from The Atlantic to Stuff.co.nz to The Age.” Time for the ad blocker plug-in, if you don’t already use one.
A team of security researchers at Proofpoint have reported that they have identified a “malvertisng” campaign which used ads displayed on high traffic sites to infect the computers of anyone who visited the site.
Malvertising attacks use online advertising channels to infiltrate malware into the computers of unsuspecting users by embedding malicious code within legitimate advertisements on trusted websites. There is no visible indication that the trusted site is compromised: simply by visiting a site, users can get infected via “drive-by download”. –The Digital Reader
Hear Beowulf Read In the Original Old English: How Many Words Do You Recognize? – I was so excited when I saw this story, because I studied Anglo-Saxon as one of my foreign languages in grad school. Unlike Middle English, it’s more complex, less recognizable, and much more difficult to learn. The Open Culture piece describes it as “close kin to German, with Latin, Norse, and Celtic influence,” and I think that’s a good comparison. One of my very favorite words in any language comes from Anglo Saxon (wyrm, which means dragon). Anyway, check it out.
As you can hear in the Beowulf reading above from The Telegraph, it’s a thick, consonant-rich language that may put you in mind of J.R.R. Tolkien’s elvish. The language arrived in Briton—previously inhabited by Celtic speakers—sometime in the fifth century, though whether the Anglo-Saxon invasion was a hostile takeover by Germanic mercenaries or a slow population drift that introduced a new ethnicity is a matter of some dispute. . . .
Beowulf is, of course, the oldest epic poem in English, written sometime between the 8th and early 11th century. It draws, however, not from British sources but from Danish myth, and is in fact set in Scandinavia. The title character, a hero of the Geats—or ancient Swedes—travels to Denmark to offer his services to the king and defeat the monster Grendel (and his mother). The product of a warrior culture, the poem shares much in common with the epics of Homer with its code of honor and praise of fighting prowess. –Open Culture
I have been warning my users about the infected ads for years now. I wish we allowed ad blocking on workplace machines.
Thanks for the Beowulf link. I’m going to have to take some time and sit and listen to that.
“now readers have to worry about maleware installed in ads that appear on high-traffic sites. ”
I know it was a typo, but it made me laugh. What a perfect description of the #gamergate posts on my Twitter feed.
I think that all poems should begin that way.
@hapax: I think they should, too. :)
That is Benjamin Bagby in the last video — there’s more videos of him performing parts of the poem posted on YouTube and they’re marvelous. I highly recommend checking them out. On the crafty side of things, there is a sock pattern available on Revelry entitled “Hwaet” by Gryphon Corpus of the Verdant Gryphon which is the first lines of the poem translated into knitting. I have a copy, but haven’t found the perfect yarn yet.
Interesting about FB vs Twitter for news. As usual, I’m an anomaly (but I spend next to no time on FB except in private groups discussing specific topics).
When we learned Old English and Beowulf, our professor made sure we heard the language rather than just seeing it on a page–its power is in the sound. He was the sort of person who’d enter a room yelling “HWAET!”
A new hire where I work and I bonded over both of us being the sort of weirdos who break into Anglo-Saxon verse every now and then, though she’s more likely to break into Bede. We’ve become fast friends–learning Old English does actually have some benefits :)
@hapax, “maleware”: I had the same reaction!
I decided a while back to cut back on my time on FB, then that bit privacy/”scientific” study thing happened. Now my policy is if I’m interested enough in something a friend posts, I’ll go to my search engine and type in keywords to find it. I don’t click on anything in FB anymore at all, except pictures from people I know (read: mostly my daughter and pictures of my grandson). If I can’t summon up the motivation to search for a story separately, I’m not interested enough.
Yeah. I’m weird. As my landlady is fond of saying, “You are a statistical outlier and should not be counted.” In so very many ways, this is true. lol
I think it is worth keeping in mind that Proofpoint is in the business of selling security software. Their analysis of how bad the threat is going to be biased.
@Isobel Carr: Isobel you’re not alone. It’s the only way I use FB as well.
I’ve never seen news in my feed. Don’t know if it’s the FB ad blocker I have installed or my lack of engagement with FB. I prefer to read news from sites I visit directly.
An outlier, for sure.