Itâ€™s the long term effects of journalism that we all need. News orgs will lose credibility and the ability to deliver on that promise if they get stuck in a childish name-calling game with the President.
Growing up 3rd of four active (or rather â€˜enthusiasticâ€™) boys meant that I both received and dished out more than a fair share of abuse. Iâ€™m reminded of this watching leading media outlets battle it out with Trump right now.
One lesson I learned as both a younger brother and an older brother was the benefit of not overreacting.
As a younger brother I learned ignoring bad behavior either makes it go away or forces it to escalate. The moment he escalates you have everyone on your side.
And as an older brother I learned that igniting an overreaction was a double-winâ€¦you get the pleasure of infuriating your little brother, and he gets punished for his over the top response.
As media outlets are losing focus on being the health check for society that we need of them and instead responding to Trumpâ€™s childish provocations the rest of us are getting frustrated, just like tired parents unsure who to punish for â€œstarting itâ€.
Personally, I would like to see more resistence from the media. Resist the temptation to respond to mean comments. Resist the temptation to point fingers. Resist the temptation to attack him to make you feel better.
That doesnâ€™t mean walk away when confronted with a legitimate attack on your existence. As Kenny Rogers said in Coward of the County, â€œSometimes you have to fight when youâ€™re a man,â€ and, indeed, thatâ€™s true of children working through their problems, too.
But the moment you escalate or call Mom for help thatâ€™s when youâ€™ve lost.
There are a lot of powerless people getting hurt by the Trump Presidency and many other things out there that have nothing to do with Trump.
Focus on those people, not yourself.
If media wants the public to stay engaged in the larger issues facing the world then it needs to focus on what matters and resist the wrestling match Trump is enjoying so much. Another lesson I learned growing up with three brothers is that winning the long game is much more satisfying than winning any single fight.
At Kaleida weâ€™ve been developing a new method for measuring mediaâ€Šâ€”â€Šan algorithm that values quality and impact. Weâ€™re opening up the project with a Creative Commons license today so we can start collaborating with other orgs interested in using theÂ data.
The idea for Kaleida when we started the company a year ago was to reinvent the way media is measured.
The media ecosystem has been defined by reach, impressions, and clicks for about 20 years. From our experience much of the value that goes into producing quality journalism gets lost by those types of metrics, and the effect has been disastrous for the industry.
Yet it seems completely counterintuitive that media orgs would struggle given the massive opportunity the Internet offers. Over 3.5B people are connected now. Fast mobile networks reach 84% of the global population. And digital ad spending is expected to reach $224 billion globally in 2017.
If quality journalism outlets could demonstrate how much impact they have in the world then lucrative business models would surely find them.
So, we collected tons of data about the media and began analysing it. You can see our machine doing its magic throughout the day every day on kaleida.com, creating a map of interests in the world. The data shows what matters to whom, when, where and how much. That was the first phase of our plan to reinvent media measurement.
The Attention Index puts all this activity into context. It scores and ranks behaviours in relative terms so itâ€™s easy to compare whatâ€™s working vs whatâ€™s not working. For example, it considers whether a publisher thinks something is particularly important and uses reader response to see if the public agrees.
Weâ€™ve started publishing raw data for people to download and explore. The May 2017 CSV includes 128,000 article headlines, URLs, editorial promotion data, social data and attention scores. Every month weâ€™ll publish the data weâ€™ve collected and scored with the algorithm.
The math and methodology is public, too. Kaleida CTO Graham Tackley has documented step-by-step how he applied various statistics and arrived at these results.
Thereâ€™s a lot more to do. We started by sharing our work with several media academics in the US and the UK. The data and the algorithm will require more scrutiny, more contributors, more data and more use cases.
Opening it up for public use will help us get that kind of engagement and, hopefully, make the Attention Index an industry standard.
Everyone we talk to in the media business is frustrated with many of the same things. Fighting to lead on metrics you donâ€™t believe in and that donâ€™t really serve your business goals is right near the top of the list.
The lower-end commodity metrics will always be useful, but itâ€™s time to recognize things that matter and to talk about them with shared language.
After an initial focus on May when she announced the snap election in mid-April the amount of coverage and the volume of social activity in response to that coverage appeared to even out. Some days Corbyn took the lead. Some days May was winning.
The interesting trend we found in our data was the scale of attention across the political spectrum. Attention tipped to the left far more than the right.
They must have had an impact. But thereâ€™s another interesting story in the data.
The Independent and The Guardian influenced significantly more attention than The Telegraph, the Daily Mail and The Times. They even beat out the BBC, Buzzfeed and HuffPost. It was the left-leaning mainstream national news orgs that produced the most articles. And it was those articles that received the most shares on Facebook compared to coverage by right-leaning publishers.
Similarly, the left-leaning alt-media sources dominated the right. Westmonster, Breitbart, Guido Fawkes and Your News Wire were not as successful in their UK election coverage compared to their left-leaning counterparts, by these measures.
Now, we didnâ€™t make a prediction prior to the UK election. We learned from our French election predictions that we needed more data, particularly when a race is close. In that case we overestimated the power of English-language media attention on the outcome of the French vote.
In the case of the UK election we not only needed more alt-media sources to measure attention, we knew nuance in how we measure attention was required, too. There are things that need to be taken into account such as the impact of a publisherâ€™s coverage in proportion to the size of their readership and the number of likes they have on Facebook.
If youâ€™re interested in this data we will make it all public soon, or you can get in touch. Weâ€™re happy to share it.
We found some remarkable figures. Many of the articles published by individuals with strong left or right political views are being shared considerably more than articles by the biggest national news orgs in the UK, including The Guardian, BBC, and The Independent. Sources ranged across the spectrum from The Canary and Skwawkbox to Westmonster and Breitbart.
Another Angry Voice is a Yorkshire-based site published by Thomas Clark. He holds 3 of the Top 10 most-shared articles about the election. The Independent and indy100 perform well compared to others, but most of their most successful articles have earned less than half of Clarkâ€™s top-performing post at over 100,000 shares.
Guardian journalist Robert Booth spoke to the university student behind Evolve Politics, Matthew Turner. He captured what weâ€™re seeing brilliantly,
â€œThis kind of dynamic activism is new to the media,â€ Turner said. â€œStories that go viral are stories that you can rally around. I think the vast majority of readers like us because we light a fire in their belly.
Readers of the mainstream media tend to not get that nowadays. We are the ones offering the fight.â€
That sentiment was echoed by both the left and the right alt-media sources.
The data behind The Guardianâ€™s report can be found in our UK election coverage explorer. If you are interested in a full set of results to explore on your own, please get in touch. We would be happy to share more data.
Professional news orgs have a lot of insight about whatâ€™s important and whatâ€™s not. Sometimes it goes unnoticed with all the noise in todayâ€™s crowded media market, but the signals are there in the data for us to see if we look in the rightÂ places.
Smaller publishers including fake news sources have learned how to make web sites that look as good as larger professional web sites. As a result much of the work that goes into producing important journalism and providing it to people goes unnoticed.
So, how do we know the difference? How does anyone know that a large group of hardworking and intelligent media professionals have carefully crafted an important story and that they think it matters to the public?
One signal is the way stories get prioritized.
Kaleida CTO Graham Tackley looked into the data and found consistently that about 2% of all the articles from the publishers we track make it to the lead position on their home pages. If 98% of their output doesnâ€™t get the top featured slot then these featured pieces obviously matter a lot.
We didnâ€™t see consistent behaviour around how long featured stories remain there. The majority of Fox Newsâ€™ featured stories hold that position for a few hours. The New York Times varies from story to story, but none last in the featured slot for more than 24 hours.
The publishing strategy for what else goes on the home page varies even more. Stories can last somewhere on the home page for minutes or days. The mean average for a story on the home page is 12 hours, about 5% last on the home page for up to 2 days.
The Daily Mail, for example, has two parallel publishing strategies. The main news column is rotated every 24 hours, while the long right-hand column moves at a much slower pace. Nothing on the Buzzfeed home page lasts more than 24 hours, most cycling through in about 4 to 6 hours.
There are many other channels such as Facebook where publishers prioritise their stories. Sometimes stories are published there without offering an equivalent piece on their own web site. We also know from looking at each publisherâ€™s Google sitemap file that there are many stories that never make it to the home page or any of the social channels.
While we donâ€™t yet know the impact of these various strategies on each publisherâ€™s business we can use this data to build a clearer picture of what matters from their perspective.
The data gets particularly interesting when you look at it in aggregate.
If all the people in the news business from both left and right-leaning politics think something matters then thatâ€™s worth knowing. Thatâ€™s a very loud signal. The decision not to feature a story can be equally loud.
Of course, identifying what matters is a two-way street. Just because an editor thinks something matters doesnâ€™t mean readers always feel the same way. But itâ€™s our belief that professional news orgs provide more value than most of us realise. Itâ€™s harder to see it with all the noise out there now, but the amount of work that goes into the editorial decisions made every day can be useful in setting some standards of value across the media ecosystem.
Maybe the business model problem for media has more to do with the process of media production than its distribution. Maybe the two-way street is precisely where the value lies.
At Kaleida we found correlations that prove sharing patterns on Facebook are a good proxy for referral traffic. That means publishers can work out the real value of all the effort they put into doing things with (and for) theÂ company.
News orgs have struggled with platforms for a long time. They donâ€™t know how to find a fair working relationship because itâ€™s hard to quantify the benefits for each side. What is the unit of value to ground the negotiation?
Facebook, Google, Twitter and all the rest are always selling the idea that they drive a lot of traffic to publishersâ€™ web sites and, therefore, publishers canâ€™t afford not to work with them. If thatâ€™s the starting point then thereâ€™s a very important question to ask:
How much is that traffic worth? And how do youÂ know?
This has been a particularly slippery question when it comes to Facebook, but it doesnâ€™t have to be.
Kaleida CTO Graham Tackley decided it was time to find some answers. What he found confirmed his suspicions that organic shares on Facebook are a reasonable proxy for real web site traffic.
The sample data here is pretty small, but itâ€™s enough to get started. It includes one day of data from a publisher we work with who will remain anonymous. We have total page views and referral data for hundreds of articles published in early April, 2017 by â€œPublisher Xâ€.
In this chart you can see a band of dots suggesting a correlation between organic sharing and Facebook referral traffic. The Pearson correlation coefficient is 0.86.
To put that in context, a perfect correlation is 1.0, meaning every point is an exact 1-to-1 relationship between the x and the y axis. A correlation of 0.0 means there is no relationship, that the figures are all totally random. So, a correlation of 0.86 is actually pretty strong, good enough to confirm the idea that Facebook sharing patterns are a reasonable proxy for Facebook referral traffic patterns on a web site.
The correlation between organic sharing and total web site traffic is much lower at 0.65. Facebook is not the sole source of traffic, of course. But neither is Google which scores 0.89. Google scores higher overall because Google provides a more even spread of traffic to publishersâ€™ web sites, driving people to home pages and the like in addition to articles.
Interestingly, while Google traffic may be more reliable and evenly spread Facebook pushed more referrals to article pages for Publisher X than Google did.
So, if thereâ€™s a strong correlation between sharing and traffic then we can work out how much value Facebook adds to the bottom line. Crucially, we can trust that the number will convert into real income unlike some of the things Facebook wants publishers to do.
What is a â€˜shareâ€™ on FacebookÂ worth?
This data can help us paint that picture. First, letâ€™s improve the precision of the answer by focusing on the higher value data.
We know, for example, that most articles get very few shares, less than 100. Letâ€™s throw those out of this sample, because those shares arenâ€™t really helping either the publisher or Facebook. Equally, the 90th percentile have gone viral or they got a huge boost in some unpredictable way. Facebook canâ€™t guarantee those will happen. According to Kurt Gessler of Chicago Tribune, the algorithm may not surface a third of all brand page posts anyhow. So, letâ€™s throw those out, too.
That leaves us with articles that have earned between 80 and 10,000 organic shares. Publisher X here had 1.1M Facebook referrals for that sample from over 240K shares.
So, in this case, one share on Facebook counts for about 4.5 page views.
If we use a generous average eCPM of $10 to make the math easier then itâ€™s reasonable to say Facebook referrals have driven about $10k worth of advertising revenue opportunity that day for Publisher X.
Revenue divided by transactions = unit value. So, how much is a share on Facebook worth?
An organic share on Facebook is worth about $0.04 to the publisher.
If that was a typical day for this publisher and all the other assumptions are in the right ballpark then Facebook referrals probably drive between 3% and 5% of total digital revenues for Publisher X.
Itâ€™s true that being present on a platform has value to it far beyond referral traffic. Itâ€™s also true that publishers could be wiser about their publishing strategies which would improve that figure.
But to accept the sales pitch from the platforms without also knowing where the tangible value lies and how much is on the table is a mistake nobody should make. Strategic value is really important, but given the internal cost of many publishersâ€™ Facebook initiatives, including Publisher X, itâ€™s likely that much of the strategic value in partnering is being lost. And as digital ad revenue market sharemoves away from news orgs this trade off feels less and less compelling.
Now that we know sharing and referral traffic have a significant and reliable relationship those discussions should feel different. Negotiating that partnership should start with a number: $0.04.
Facebook share value will vary per publisher based on total referrals, shares and CPM. We could use more data from more publishers to refine these figures, so if you want us to do this analysis for you, please get in touch: firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.
In this chart weâ€™ve multiplied the number of articles about Macron and Le Pen published by major media sources in the US and the UK by the number of organic shares the articles earned on Facebook.
The major peak in the chart happened around the final debate. Attention for both fell before Macron got the big boost that put him in the lead at the end.
The remarkable insight here is that yet again we find the combination of media coverage and the response to that coverage reflecting real world outcomes. Correlations are not the same as causation, but we are finding more and more reasons to pay close attention to this relationship.
If attention matters in the French election as much as it did for Trump, Brexit and Round One then the polls need to consider how people are responding to coverage of the candidates.
The polls currently show Emmanuel Macron leading Marine Le Pen in the French Presidential Election. The FT has a nice poll tracker mapping a steady position of voting intentions for the more centrist candidate.
Le Pen has closed in noticeably but not threateningly.
The polls were were strikingly accurate in Round One, so thereâ€™s no reason to believe that they will be wrong now. However, recent history in other parts of the world suggest peopleâ€™s voting intentions canâ€™t always be trusted on the big day.
While projecting American and British experiences onto the French electorate is bound to be inaccurate, the data tells a story that should concern anyone who expects Macron to take 60% of the vote. The polls arenâ€™t considering the impact of the media, the attention Le Pen is capturing and the momentum moving in her direction these last few days.
Attention density favoured Le Pen up until the first round of voting in the French Election. Now Macron has momentum with the media and, therefore, a good chance ofÂ winning.
Up until the weekend our data suggested that Le Penâ€™s lead in the French Election was insurmountable.
The pattern looked similar to what weâ€™ve seen elsewhere this yearâ€Šâ€”â€Šas if Le Pen had acquired a critical mass of attention density, a position where a sort of natural gravitational force pulls all media in around something.
Attention from mainstream media alone is not enough to create this force. Lots of things get heavy coverage and no response. And neither is viral distribution of things people say on Facebook. A viral story may have no value to it other than its own reflection.
Rather itâ€™s the intersection of those two things that creates a sense of density and weight and real world impact.
Le Pen had that kind of gravity, even after a tumultuous February that included a â€˜fake jobsâ€™ scandal, a fraud probe, and a police raid. *
Since the beginning of 2017 the leading news orgs have been covering Marine Le Pen a lot more than all the other candidates. 40% have been about her, 30% about FranÃ§ois Fillon and 21% about Emmanuel Macron with the rest spread out amongst the others.
With so much media attention focused on Le Pen she is obviously going to dominate how coverage about the candidates is shared on Facebook. In fact, prior to Round One articles about Le Pen earned 70% of all shares of coverage about the candidates with 26% split between Fillon and Macron.
Now that weâ€™re down to two candidates things really have changed. And Macron is actually leading Le Pen in terms of attention. Weâ€™re tracking nearly 200 articles about Macron over the last 24 hours which have earned over 150k shares on Facebook. Le Pen no longer has the same attention density with just 150 articles in the same period and about 140k shares on Facebook.
Both candidates are probably outperforming expectations given neither represents the mainstream political parties, and itâ€™s plausible that Macron is outperforming more than Le Pen given the many years she has already spent in the media spotlight.
Based purely on attention density as weâ€™ve described here, Kaleida data now suggests that Macron is leading the race. A lot of news and sharing of that coverage will happen between now and election day. If the past is an indicator of what happens next then the daily shifts in attention will surely affect voting.
The side that can build the most coverage by mainstream media that is shared the most on Facebook is likely to come out on top.
* The significant caveat in what the data tells us here is that Kaleida is looking at English-language articles from major news orgs in the US and UK only. Without tracking coverage of the French media market interpretations of data about French issues have to be taken with many grains of salt.
We noticed interesting patterns in our data after Brexit that were reflected again in the US election. Itâ€™s not media coverage that affects change. And itâ€™s not what people say on Facebook. Itâ€™s the intersection of the twoâ€Šâ€”â€Šhow people respond to media coverage.
We saw similar correlations when we looked at coverage of public companies and changes in stock price, though, of course, there is a long list of caveats propping up this idea still. The biggest caveat in terms of the French Election is that weâ€™re not tracking French news sources.
But the data tells a fascinating story even though the science is not yet fully formed.
Since the beginning of 2017 the leading US and UK news orgs have been covering Marine Le Pen the most. 636 articles (40%) have been about her, 470 articles (30%) about FranÃ§ois Fillon and 330 (21%) about Emmanuel Macron.
With so much media attention focused on Le Pen she is obviously going to dominate how coverage about the candidates is shared on Facebook. In fact, articles about Le Pen have earned 70% of all shares of coverage about the candidates with 26% split between Fillon and Macron.
The crazy February spike that included a â€˜Fake Jobsâ€™ scandal, a fraud probe, and police raiding the Front National offices increased the volume for all values but didnâ€™t seem to skew the percentages all that much.
However, there are two signals that indicate a window is open for a challenger. The rate of sharing and sentiment both put a qualitative lens on these numbers.
In contrast, Fillon has been on a steady decline since February in all the areas we track. The amount of negative coverage about Fillon is striking, and the more that coverage gets shared the worse Fillonâ€™s position becomes.
Le Pen, on the other hand, is getting more and more coverage with slightly more positive than negative sentiment.
Clearly, Le Pen is winning in the US and UK media markets for reasons that have nothing to do with the French.
Mainstream media is stuck between voicing the concerns of the people and amplifying the messages of the populists. That and the addictive nature of web site traffic that populist voices hand to them on a plate make it hard for publishers to resist being a player in the game. Le Pen is Brexit. Le Pen is Trump.
Itâ€™s as if a formula has emerged or a kind of perfect storm.