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Net Advertising and Educational Websites


John Simkin
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Interesting article in the Guardian this week that I believe will have an impact on educational websites:

The internet will overtake national newspapers in the battle for advertising spending in the UK by the end of the year, it was predicted yesterday. GroupM, which accounts for about 30% of global media buying, says in a report to be published next month that the internet will account for 13.3% of the £12.2bn UK advertising market this year, overtaking national newspapers with a share of 13.2%. The figure for web advertising could be even bigger, because the report excludes the estimated £1bn a year spent on "affiliate advertising", which largely comprises adverts placed on smaller websites.

The speed at which advertisers have shifted spending to the web has surprised many. Six years ago the web was an upstart medium controlling only 1% of the multibillion-pound British advertising market, despite being lavished with media and investor attention. The related factors of growth in broadband usage and declining newspaper circulation appear to have justified the hype. "Reach is what advertisers want most," says the report. "National newspapers still have lots of it, but less reach means less ad money."

GroupM, the holding company for media-buying agencies owned by WPP, adds that tabloids have been hit the hardest, with ageing readerships and celebrity magazines damaging newsstand sales. It warns that the migration of classified adverts to the internet could be dangerous for all nationals because they are such a profitable niche, accounting for a quarter of nationals' advertising revenue: "Online substitution of classified is therefore particularly threatening given print's massive operational gearing. Jobseekers know they don't need to buy nationals any more."

Google will throw down another challenge to the newspaper industry today by launching its Base service in Britain. Google Base allows users to upload their own content onto the search engine's servers, in effect making the content part of the internet. Because of this, it is perceived as a major threat to print-based classified advertising. Although it has yet to make headway in US classified advertising, the Google Base concept could appeal to advertisers seeking a cheaper alternative to print. Peter Williams, finance director of Daily Mail & General Trust, said yesterday that national newspapers still held advantages over the younger medium: "The one area of media that is not fragmented is national newspapers. There are not too many national newspaper launches, but how many websites launch every day? Also, in national newspapers you can buy critical mass in one place, so we have the advantage of individual size."

Having confirmed the rise of the internet, the GroupM report goes on to predict that advertising on mobile platforms - from phones to lap tops - will experience the next growth spurt: "Mobile advertising is at the start of a growth curve like that of the internet, which initially grew at annual rates of up to 200%." Mobile advertising is starting from a low base and is forecast to double to £60m this year, doubling again to £120m next year.

The study warns that the strong performance of internet advertising is masking the woes of more established platforms. According to media buyers' estimates seen by the Guardian, ITV1 will generate less than £100m in advertising revenues in July - falling 18% to £96m. ITV1 turnover is now heading for a decline of 11% year on year, in a broadcast market that is expected to fall 3% overall.

"Without evergreen internet spending we would be in an ad recession," said the GroupM report. "TV is having its worst year since 2001. This is not a crisis of TV advertiser confidence, but it could be the market imposing a permanent discount on a fragmented medium."

Henry Rowe, managing director of Carat Digital, the online arm of Europe's largest media buyer, predicts 80% of media consumption will be digital in three or four years. Much of this is being driven by digital TV, which is in two-thirds of UK homes, and Britain's 10m broadband connections: "The future for digital media is the future for media overall, which means that phrases like 'new media' will be even more ridiculous than they are now."

Mr Rowe adds that paid-for search advertising, where adverts are triggered by key searchwords, will continue to dominate internet advertising. Carat believes that more than 50% of internet advertising sold over the next few years will be derived from paid-for search.

"We see see search growing for a couple of years but ultimately it will plateau when there is saturation of online consumption and internet penetration," he says. "Once traditional media are fully converted to digital and the internet, non-search advertising will become a bigger part of the total."

http://business.guardian.co.uk/story/0,,1786358,00.html

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Interesting article in the Guardian this week that I believe will have an impact on educational websites:

Very interesting.

You reproduced the article but neglected to tell us what you think the impact will be on educational websites.

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Interesting article in the Guardian this week that I believe will have an impact on educational websites:

Very interesting.

You reproduced the article but neglected to tell us what you think the impact will be on educational websites.

In the past educational publishing was dominated by multinational corporations. As a small company it was virtually impossible to compete with these companies as you could not afford large print runs in the Third World, full-colour brochures being sent to heads of department every term, sales representatives visiting schools on a regular basis, newspaper advertising, etc.

The internet has changed that. With the use of advertising, teachers can run profitable one-man businesses. In time, they will pose a serious threat to the power of the multinational corporations.

A similar revolution is taking place in journalism. Journalists who found it difficult to get their editors to publish their articles about political corruption now have their own websites. People like Bob Parry, Joe Trento, Daniel Hopsicker, Sander Hicks, Robin Ramsay, etc., now publish direct to a world audience. The internet revolution is as important to the future of mass communications, as the Russian Revolution was to political systems.

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In the past educational publishing was dominated by multinational corporations. As a small company it was virtually impossible to compete with these companies as you could not afford large print runs in the Third World, full-colour brochures being sent to heads of department every term, sales representatives visiting schools on a regular basis, newspaper advertising, etc.

The internet has changed that. With the use of advertising, teachers can run profitable one-man businesses. In time, they will pose a serious threat to the power of the multinational corporations.

I think there is a danger of exaggerating the potential here for working school teachers.

I for instance run quite a large website funded by contextual adverts. The income the site generates covers my costs, allows me to purchase all the software I need and leaves me with a little left over in profit. This is nice but in no way suggests that indviduals like myself will ever have the resources or time to pose "a threat to the powe of the multinational corporations"

Capitalism by its very logic does not waste much time gobbling up the smaller producers in the relentless pursuit of greater profits. I have no reason to believe that business based on new technologies will be any different in the long term.

It is only a matter of time before the big publishers adapt to the new technology and use their existing clout to dominate it.

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I think that for the average, run-of-the-mill teacher, rather than the web-master, these trends have both positive and negative aspects.

On the positive side, I know my teaching has been greatly enriched by access to materials on Spartacus, JohnDClare, schoolhistory and so on. It's much more accessible, often a lot more interesting, and written by people who understand what it is to stand in front of a classful of 15-year-olds at 3:30 on a Friday afternoon...

On the other hand, I think student plagiarism has ballooned out of all proportion in recent years largely as a result of the sheer availability of on-line material. Many of my students seem to come to me with a rather blurred concept of where internet research ends and cut-and-paste plagiarism begins.

I think it's also dangerous that an essential "peer review" element is often missing on some of these sites. Some of them don't cite sources at all, let alone adequately. I know from experience that I can trust Andrew Field, Mr Walker and Mr Simkin, Juan Carlos Ocana, John D Clare and so on to check the materials they put up for reliability, but most of the students I teach have neither the knowledge nor the experience to make that sort of judgement. When they were relying on library books or school textbooks for their information, the material they were getting had been -- I hope -- "vetted" by librarians or teachers. Now they're "on their own" on the internet, there's no such filter and I'm afraid I can't see many signs that we're giving them the tools and training they need to avoid untrustworthy material. I think the recent post by Owen Parsons on Serbia rather underlines what I'm saying here...

I know I've drifted off John's original point about net advertising and I apologise for going off at a tangent.

Edited by mike tribe
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I know from experience that I can't trust Andrew Field, Mr Walker and Mr Simkin, Juan Carlos Ocana, John D Clare and so on to check the materials they put up for reliability, but most of the students I teach have neither the knowledge nor the experience to make that sort of judgement.

I assume you did not really mean to say that.

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I know from experience that I can't trust Andrew Field, Mr Walker and Mr Simkin, Juan Carlos Ocana, John D Clare and so on to check the materials they put up for reliability, but most of the students I teach have neither the knowledge nor the experience to make that sort of judgement.

I assume you did not really mean to say that.

I think he's talking about Andrew Field :ph34r:

On the other hand, I think student plagiarism has ballooned out of all proportion in recent years largely as a result of the sheer availability of on-line material. Many of my students seem to come to me with a rather blurred concept of where internet research ends and cut-and-paste plagiarism begins.

The process of plagiarism is certainly quicker and more tempting for students now. All the more important therefore that teachers intervene when this matter arises.

I have found it powerful to get the message across when students have been working on producing their own websites in a cross curricular project.

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I have been an external examiner for four different Masters courses since the mid-1990s. Plagiarism has become rife in recent years. The silliest example I found was a student who had lifted a whole chunk from a a website of mine and pasted it into his coursework without acknowledging me - not a good idea to upset the external examiner in this way! Needless to say, he failed. JISC has now introduced a plagiarism detection service (TurnitinUK), and students in many universities are told that any work they submit may be checked via this service: http://www.submit.ac.uk/

Regarding plagiarism on the Web in general, there is a new profession emerging, namely that of the "copyright bounty hunter". It's already well established in the USA. Such people trawl the Web looking for breaches of copyright and then report the culprits to the copyright owners (usually big companies) for a substantial fee in exchange for the information.

However, you may be more at threat from pupils, their parents or your colleagues. My local school was reported to the Federation Against Software Theft by a parent (name unknown) for ripping off a piece of software I had written, namely supplying copies of it to pupils to work on at home. The parent was stupid, however, and had failed to check that the school had a licence to do this - purchased direct from my business. I found one reference on the Web regarding a teacher in the US who had been overlooked for promotion and had consequently reported her head of department to a software company whose products she had copied illegally. This is a neat way of getting rid of senior management!

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I have been an external examiner for four different Masters courses since the mid-1990s. Plagiarism has become rife in recent years. The silliest example I found was a student who had lifted a whole chunk from a a website of mine and pasted it into his coursework without acknowledging me - not a good idea to upset the external examiner in this way! Needless to say, he failed. JISC has now introduced a plagiarism detection service (TurnitinUK), and students in many universities are told that any work they submit may be checked via this service: http://www.submit.ac.uk/

Regarding plagiarism on the Web in general, there is a new profession emerging, namely that of the "copyright bounty hunter". It's already well established in the USA. Such people trawl the Web looking for breaches of copyright and then report the culprits to the copyright owners (usually big companies) for a substantial fee in exchange for the information.

However, you may be more at threat from pupils, their parents or your colleagues. My local school was reported to the Federation Against Software Theft by a parent (name unknown) for ripping off a piece of software I had written, namely supplying copies of it to pupils to work on at home. The parent was stupid, however, and had failed to check that the school had a licence to do this - purchased direct from my business. I found one reference on the Web regarding a teacher in the US who had been overlooked for promotion and had consequently reported her head of department to a software company whose products she had copied illegally. This is a neat way of getting rid of senior management!

Graham,

As someone who has had an online presence for quite some time, a silver surfer if you will, what do you think of John's predictions for the impact of net advertising on educational websites?

Have you considered carrying contextual adverts on your site and offering your content as a free resource?

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In the past educational publishing was dominated by multinational corporations. As a small company it was virtually impossible to compete with these companies as you could not afford large print runs in the Third World, full-colour brochures being sent to heads of department every term, sales representatives visiting schools on a regular basis, newspaper advertising, etc.

The internet has changed that. With the use of advertising, teachers can run profitable one-man businesses. In time, they will pose a serious threat to the power of the multinational corporations.

I think there is a danger of exaggerating the potential here for working school teachers.

I for instance run quite a large website funded by contextual adverts. The income the site generates covers my costs, allows me to purchase all the software I need and leaves me with a little left over in profit. This is nice but in no way suggests that indviduals like myself will ever have the resources or time to pose "a threat to the powe of the multinational corporations"

That is obviously the case. To compete with the multinational corporations teachers have to move to the next stage and make it a full-time job. That was always the case. When Spartacus was a book-publishing company I had to give up my job as a teacher. Between 1987 and 1995 I made a very good living from the company. However, the decision by the multinationals to produce books in full-colour (printed in the Third World) changed the rules of the game. Small publishers could not afford to have 100,000 plus print runs. We therefore had to leave the market and returned to teaching.

I reinvented myself as an internet-publishing company in 1997. To make a success of this I had to leave teaching once again and work full time on the business. I accept, that you are unable to compete with the multinationals while remaining in the classroom.

I reject the idea that the multinational will eventually take control of this new development. While this has been true of the past, it is not true of web publishing. This is because of the way the system works. I have only been able to make my business profitable by keeping down my labour costs. For example, I have worked as an adviser for two large companies who sought to make money from web publishing. However, as I pointed out to them, as long as you spend large sums of money creating the operation, you will never make a profit from the venture. For example, one of these companies was spending £2.7 million a year to create online content. In doing so, they obtained a similar income as me in advertising revenue. That meant they lost a lot of money while I was making a healthy return from my investment.

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However, the decision by the multinationals to produce books in full-colour (printed in the Third World) changed the rules of the game. Small publishers could not afford to have 100,000 plus print runs. We therefore had to leave the market and returned to teaching.

You undoubtedly have enjoyed great success with your web site.

There will however eventually be a high tech equivalent of 'printing in full colour' and '100,000 plus print runs' to spoil the party.

The buggers just haven't worked out how to do it yet.

I suspect the main issues will centre on bandwidth, flash animation and web space hungry multi media applications.

There will always be some supply work in Dartford for you when hard times return.

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I already offer a lot of free stuff at my website:

http://www.camsoftpartners.co.uk/freestuff.htm

We make our living mainly from one software package, that we have developed: Fun with Texts. I doubt that we could offer it for free and rely on adverts. In any case, we have complex royalty agreements relating to the package, and it would not be easy to change them. I think we could consider revenue from advertising, but I am a bit wary of adverts putting teachers off. All our other revenue derives from retail sales. I have my doubts about high-tech sites. BBC Jam has gone down this route and is attracting a lot of criticism - because the fancy animations and multimedia bits just don't work properly at peak times of day and with heavy usage by schools. I think there will be place for a small-scale business like mine for a long time to come.

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Some further thoughts on this:

I can't remember where I read the information, but it was more or less in line with what John has said:

...as long as you spend large sums of money creating the operation, you will never make a profit from the venture.

Most high-tech companies have overestimated the money to be made from providing educational materials on the Web. UkEU crashed spectacularly two years ago. Students just didn't apply for their courses. As an 18-20 year-old the last thing I would want to do is follow an online course. At that age I wanted to get away from home, go to parties, get drunk, travel the world and fall in love - as well as getting an education, of course. The e-learning companies would do better if they targeted housebound people, i.e. a similar audience to that of the Open University. I think there is growing evidence that people aged 40-plus (or even 60-plus like myself) are more likely to look for online learning materials - and we just want no-frills, high-quality stuff. As for my subject area, modern foreign languages, it tends to be media rich and some kinds of learning materials just work better in more traditional formats, such as an audio CD that I can listen to in the car or TV broadcasts that show lots of real-life situations and local culture, e.g as in the BBC's TV series for learners of Greek, Chinese and Portuguese - and which I can watch sitting in a comfortable armchair. But the BBC has now closed down the unit that used to produce these excellent TV series (they don't come cheap) and is now offering us poorer quality Web-based materials as a substitute.

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Internet advertising went up by 73% in 2006 compared to the previous year, yet total press advertising went down 3%. Spending on press advertising has gone down for the past ten years.

Newspaper circulation is also down. The tabloids have suffered the greatest fall. It seems people only buy these papers for the pictures. Therefore they are beginning to switch to celebrity magazines.

The main danger to newspapers is the movement in classified ads to the web. This will ultimately destroy the economic base of the industry. Unless they adapt, newspapers will cease to exist.

According to one study, 75% of the population go online every day. Most youngsters get their news from the web rather than from newspapers. This is causing a change in the power structure. Press barons like Murdoch are losing their power base. Individual journalists with their own websites or working in cooperatives will become the main news source in competition to organizations like the BBC. This will have political consequences. All part of the internet revolution.

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