Back in June I wrote a freelance (just the one mind) piece for The Guardian about my old stamping ground of online media. In this case it was the ABCe figures which come out monthly and tell us how much traffic newspaper web sites get in the UK. But it’s clear that these figures are quickly becoming rather meaningless as newspapers start to learn the game of SEO’d headlines and find their niche in categories much more suited to their sites than the moniker “newspaper”.
Here’s what I wrote:
With a heady mix of news, celebrity and controversy, Mail Online – the umbrella site for the Daily Mail’s titles – became the highest circulating UK newspaper online last week. But its rise is likely to throw up anomalies in the system of online newspaper traffic measurement – notably, that online newspapers are becoming “category plays”, targeting sectors of the market, such as entertainment, news, video or business. The modern newspaper website is now a many-headed beast and can include everything from bingo games to almost full-blown TV reporting. To compare them with each other, like their offline equivalents, looks increasingly anachronistic.
So what’s the story hitting TechMeme last night and today? An unsourced, seven sentence story from The Daily Mail’s site with the headline “Apple to launch the iPhone ‘nano’ in time for Christmas“. Apparently an “iPhone nano”, priced at £150, would work best with pay-as-you-go plans, instead of the contract-tied iPhone 3G. See one of those loony photoshopped ‘mock-ups’ above. Incredily, The Guardian is wondering if it’s all just PR! Cynics!
Now, it’s highly likely that Apple will extend it’s range of handsets. But right now it is struggling to fulfil existing orders. Do you think they would go and release yet another model right now?
If he hadn’t alrady done it I would be launching into something approaching Charlie Brookers excoriation of the effect SEO’d headlines are having on the media, but instead, I’ll just link to it. The headline is: “Online POKER marketing could spell the NAKED end of VIAGRA journalism as we LOHAN know it”. See the similarity?
Suffice it to say, that this story from the Mail is almost certainly based on the thinnest of rumours, if anything, and reaks of the worst kind of link-bait. Which is really why they should be banned form TechMeme now.