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New York Times

NYTimes Mobile Paywall

Not a ton to say here except that: - I reached the New York Times paywall - And it is visually very bold / intrusive - But while it is disruptive - and that's the goal of course - it is really not very actionable: The only part of the entire screen that is clickable are the two orange buttons.That is <5% of the screen's real estate and a wasted opportunity to users right into an upgrade flow. As it currently stands, I need to read the promotional box, click the orange button, land on an educational page and then choose an upgrade package. Too many steps and too much effort.

(Lastly, I am not entirely sure what constitutes exceeding the paywall... it says after 10 free articles but it appears intermittently)

Balancing Ads, Revenue and Experience, Pageviews.

I write frequently about how mobile web requires a different design and UI than traditional. Great example here. These are two *subsequent* screenshots from the New York Times iPad-friendly website. First, the NYT homepage is taken over with an American Express ad (albeit a really good looking, custom-built ad).

I can tolerate a page takeover. It's neither unique nor inexcusable (they have to make money on a free product). But, after it disappears and I click on an article - I get another takeover.

It too is custom (and I give them credit for that)... but that is two consecutive takeovers and, this last example, is remarkably annoying. It should at least appear on the right column so that I can read the article. Why preserve the social sharing screen for an article I haven't yet had the ability to read?

It's really shortsighted to sacrifice experience, reduce pageviews (both in this session and in the future) to increase eCPM for this specific visit. The eCPM will be terrific: two huge takeovers on my two pageviews... but I didn't even get to a third pageview. Is it worth it?

Starbucks Gives "Behind-the-Paywall" Access.

I logged into Starbucks' wifi this morning and was presented with the below screen. I find it fascinating that Starbucks has an ad for "full behind-the-paywall access. Free." This strikes me as very much an industry term that is neither: - well known - consumer friendly, or - flattering for the content providers (WSJ, ESPN, USA Today, NY Times)

Agree? Disagree?

AOL Takes Over

Over the weekend, I visited and was surprised to see AOL's "On Now" campaign taking over the *entire* screen of my laptop. This screenshot is trimmed down to fit the blog, but it is taken of a fully expanded browser. The ad itself is attractive, dynamic and features fresh, timely content. My surprise is instead that the New York Times homepage is entirely covered by a different (but still competing?) news source:

The New York Tech Scene, Dogpatch Labs Featured in NYTimes

Today's New York Times had a great, thorough piece profiling New York's active and growing tech scene: "New York Isn’t Silicon Valley. That’s Why They Like It."

The article describes various signs of activity: - events: New York Tech Meet Up - companies: Foursquare, Vimeo, Hot Potato - investors: Polaris Ventures, NYC Seed, Union Square - universities (as hubs of entrepreneurship): Columbia, NYU - and inclubators: featuring Dogpatch Labs New York

Some of the more interesting breeding grounds in the city are technology incubators that nurture and mentor young companies. One example is the new Manhattan arm of Dogpatch Labs, which is backed by Polaris Venture Partners, an investment firm in the Boston area.

Dogpatch, which opened in January, offers start-ups a place to work, rent-free, for several months, along with the possibility of securing an investment down the line.

Socks, crumpled pieces of paper, scribbled-upon white boards and empty beef jerky packages are scattered around Dogpatch’s roomy office. “It’s been called a frat house for geeks,” says Peter Flint, a partner at Polaris who spends several days each week in the New York office.

“There is a lot of excitement and interest budding in New York,” he says. “And if we can help convince entrepreneurs to think about staying in New York versus going to Silicon Valley, then that’s a huge win.”

Currently, 13 companies are housed in the space, including Postling, the newest spawn of the founders and early employees of Etsy. Locals cite Etsy, an online shopping bazaar specializing in handmade crafts, as one of New York’s shining start-up success stories, along with DoubleClick; TheLadders, a jobs search site; and the Gilt Groupe.

“There wasn’t anything like this in New York when Etsy started,” said Chris Maguire, a co-founder of both Postling and Etsy. “We worked out of our apartments for the first few years.”

I was able to spend time last week in New York and was struck by the vibrancy of the community, the entrepreneurs and of Dogpatch - which features a collection of outstanding thinkers and companies. With Dogpatch Labs NY, we at Polaris obviously believe that New York is an important and growing center of entrepreneurship. In addition to my home-base of San Francisco and our Cambridge Dogpatch Labs, I look forward to spending more time in New York and to helping drive collaboration among the 100+ entrepreneurs across all three locations.

Apple's Latest iPhone Advertisement: All About Big Brands

In March, I wrote about Apple's full page advertisement in the New York Times touting the iPhone as a weekend tool: "Getting the most out of your weekend, one app at a time."

In yesterday's New York Times, they ran a continuation of the ongoing campaign - but with a slight twist: promote the branded apps (I wrote a post this week about seven of the best branded iPhone apps):

"It's pretty amazing who's on the iPhone these days. From CNN to Nike, Starbucks to FedEx, there are over 100,000 apps for just about anything. Only on the iPhone and the nation's fastest 3G network." It is a poor photo, but you can see that each of the applications comes from a very recognizable name: Nike, Starbucks, eBay, CNN, Gap, ESPN, Facebook, Target, Bank of America, Whole Foods, CNN, USA Today, Avis, eTrade, Pizza Hut and Barnes & Nobles.

Also of note, other than CNN's $1.99 app, all of these applications are free. In many of Apple's advertisements - and certainly in their app recommendations - they tend to promote paid applications... but here, the brand names are intended to sell hardware and reputation rather than micro-purchases.

iphone apps new york times ad

Great Perspective on Hiring: Seek "Tiggers", Avoid "Eeyores"

As much as I rely on Facebook, Twitter and (to a lesser extent) RSS for my daily reading list - email still is my best source for high quality content and ensuing discussions. Email of course is limited in functionality and difficult to manage.

Anyhow, via email, I was pointed to The New York Times' article Are You a Tigger, or an Eeyore? It is part of the NYT's Corner Office section (always good reading) and is an interview with Mindy Grossman, the chief executive of HSN Inc. Lots of good nuggets on management, building culture, etc - but the Q&A about hiring is great... dead-on perspective that is as valuable to job seekers and hirers:

Q. Let’s talk about hiring. A. There are a number of things that are really important to me. One — and people laugh that I have this philosophy — is that you only hire Tiggers. You don’t hire Eeyores. It doesn’t mean they have to be loud, but I need energy-givers and I have to get a feeling that this person is going to be able to inspire people. Are they going to be optimistic about where they’re going? Are they going to attract people who are like that?

No. 2 is, will they be able to stand up to me when they believe in something? I’m very passionate. I need people who are going to be able to make me look at things in a different way. So, I have to ask those questions, like, “Give me an instance where you really believed in something and you were able to change the course and it was successful, whatever that was.” That’s really important, because you don’t want people telling you what you already know, or not telling you what you need to know.


Google Chrome Ad Takes Over New York Times Homepage

Google continues to advertise aggressively for their web browser, Google Chrome. Today, they took over the right side of the New York Times homepage with an expanding video ad that rotates through different Chrome commercials (called "Chrome Shorts"). In itself, it is interesting that Google is marketing the browser so prominently... but never really mentioning the product, benefits, and so forth (entirely the opposite approach of the new Microsoft ads, for instance).

Here is where the campaign is bizarre though:

1. I use Google Chrome. Why pay to promote Google Chrome to me... when I have already converted? Seems wasteful...

2. The ad interaction is actually broken within Google Chrome. The ad expands but will not play - rather, it collapses when you try to hover over any of the videos... which in turn is not the greatest selling point for the product it is trying to promote


Edmund Andrews' "Personal Credit Crisis" is our National Crisis

The New York Times Edmund Andrews' "My Personal Credit Crisis" is a candid recap of how a respected economic reporter for a respected news source entered into the same world of subprime mortgages and credit trouble that our nation did. Very much worth the read - if only to get a individual understanding of the far wider problem:


The only problem was money. Having separated from my wife of 21 years, who had physical custody of our sons, I was handing over $4,000 a month in alimony and child-support payments. That left me with take-home pay of $2,777, barely enough to make ends meet in a one-bedroom rental apartment. Patty had yet to even look for a job. At any other time in history, the idea of someone like me borrowing more than $400,000 would have seemed insane.

But this was unlike any other time in history. My real estate agent gave me the number of Bob Andrews, a loan officer at American Home Mortgage Corporation. Bob wasn’t related to me, and I had never heard of his company. “Bob can be very helpful,” my agent explained. “He specializes in unusual situations.”


Bob called back the next morning. “Your credit scores are almost perfect,” he said happily. “Based on your income, you can qualify for a mortgage of about $500,000.”

What about my alimony and child-support obligations? No need to mention them. What would happen when they saw the automatic withholdings in my paycheck? No need to show them. If I wanted to buy a house, Bob figured, it was my job to decide whether I could afford it. His job was to make it happen.