Spreading the news You Tube style

Big, big kudos to the Allentown Morning Call for their Breeders and Kennels search widget. While there’s nothing especially extraordinary about setting up a searchable database, the Morning Call took it a step further and made their search widget embeddable by way of copy/pasting iframe code.

I could be wrong, but I can’t recall seeing a newspaper site ever do this with a search widget.

One consumer rights group has already embedded the database on their page and called it “groundbreaking.”

Newspapers should start considering this as standard operating procedure immediately. Can you imagine the traffic you’d receive for your local voter guides from bloggers during election season? What about dining databases? Chances are, there is plenty of content already on your site that can be turned into a search widget. And, the advertising of your site in a positive light? The possibilities are ripe.

Thanks to Amy Gahran for spotting this.

British newspapers paying Google for headline placement

Do I hear $10 for “Saddam Hussein hanging?” $15?

PaidContent highlights a Wall Street Journal report on the growing trend in the U.K. toward newspapers bidding on sponsored links on Google for news events. Some American newspapers have gotten in on the act too, including the New York Times, Washington Post and USAToday, according to the article.

I have no qualms about training journalists to write search-engine friendly headlines. Those headlines tend to work better on the Web anyway, and Google is the biggest driver of traffic just about anywhere.

Nevertheless, the question is: If this trend explodes here in the United States, will even mid-size and small news sites have any other choice but to join the auction?

Closer scrutiny for media’s web stats

The New York Times reports on Forbes.com‘s troubles with determining how many users visit the site and who they are, a trend I predict is likely to increase in coming days with other media outlets.

All evidence suggests that advertisers are becoming increasingly concerned with the accuracy of measuring users’ activities. The Audit Bureau of Circulation is pushing a web data initiative, as is the traditionally broadcast-only Nielsen ratings.

Editors and managers should be taking a hard, honest look at where their traffic comes from and whether it will be able to stand up naked in its full glory to advertisers. Fortunately, many newspapers seem committed to building local traffic, not just focusing on raw page views.

On Forbes, the NYTimes reports:

“A closer look at the numbers raises questions about Forbes.com’s industry-leading success. For its claim of a worldwide audience of nearly 15.3 million, it has been citing February data from comScore Media Metrix, one of the two leading providers of third-party Web traffic data.

There are several problems with that statistic, though, and comScore has since revised the figure downward to less than 13.2 million as part of a broader revamping of its worldwide data for many sites. Jack Flanagan, executive vice president at comScore Media Metrix, said the new figures were released “a couple of months ago” after it changed its methods for estimating global audiences.

There is also the question, given Forbes.com’s user figures, of where those visitors were going. According to comScore, 45 percent of its February traffic went to ForbesAutos.com, a companion Web site heavy on car reviews and photos. About three-quarters of the ForbesAutos.com traffic came from outside the United States.”

[Via MediaBistro]

Google strikes with map coupons

The New York Times reports on how Google is now allowing businesses to upload coupons for free onto its Google Maps service. The acrimonious lede, which I confess I enjoyed, goes:

“Google is expanding its local directory business using the same sort of disruptive tactics it has used in other areas: giving away something for which others charge.”

Newspapers may again be left with the same dust in their faces that Craigslist kicked up. For newspapers to survive, the best and brightest need to redouble efforts to figure out what local news operations can offer that Google can’t.

How Google Earth may shrink real estate sections

Never to leave a segment of newspapers’ profits untouched, Google has plans to launch interactive local ads in its new version of Google Earth, according to Forbes Publisher Rich Karlgaard (registration required). Google has apparently been scraping real estate data that would allow Google Earth users to see any home’s purchase price, property taxes and more. To know more about claiming dependents on taxes go through our site.

Google is also planning on selling Google Earth ads that will provide a sharp, emphasized image of the building along with a link to the store’s Web site. Hopefully, no one will be dumping the trash in the back when the satellite snaps the pic. I’d love to see a three-dimensional view of the Dumpster with the leftover fried rice inside.

Still, this all beggars the question: What services to real esate advertisers will local news sites be willing and able to offer that Google can’t? Will a text listing on a newspaper site be competitive against a beautiful three-dimensional image and an interactive map of the area?

What happens when Google perhaps starts integrating local crime statistics and school information into their map databases to give buyers a better sense of the area in which they are considering purchasing a home?