Category Archives: New Media

Defend the web: Why I Support Net Neutrality

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: internet service providers want to create a “fast-lane” for certain websites (namely those who pay for the privilege) at the expense of effectively slowing down other websites. If it seems like we’ve Matt Hurst loadingbeen defending the principles of Net Neutrality for at least a decade you’re not far off (myself included during my early blogging days), but telecom companies continue to spend millions of dollars every year to lobby for policies designed to create an uneven playing field from which they profit but at the expense of consumers.  Today I’ve joined thousands of bloggers and websites by participating an Internet Slowdown protest, simulating the same slowdown we might experience if ISPs are able to remove Net Neutrality rules set by the FCC.

First let’s make sure we understands what Net Neutrality is: a guiding principle of the internet that the web should be open and level-playing field for all websites.   For the uninitiated, talk show John Oliver has an excellent primer on Net Neutrality and why it’s important: Continue reading Defend the web: Why I Support Net Neutrality

Media Universe: Exploring Consumers’ Expanding Use of Digital Devices

Media device ownership in 2013

Today consumers own more devices than ever before, and the greatest growth comes from digital devices, many of which didn’t even exist a few years ago.  If fact, according to Nielsen’s recent Digital Consumer Report (full disclosure: I helped research and create this report) not only do the majority of Americans now own smartphones, but during 2013 time spent accessing the internet using smartphone apps (34 hours per person on average) surpassed time spent surfing the web on computers (27 hours on average).  Whether consumers using the devices to access media or connect with one another, advertisers and marketers must follow consumer’s eyeballs as they jump across multiple screens and platforms.

So where do consumers spend their time and attention when using media? Continue reading Media Universe: Exploring Consumers’ Expanding Use of Digital Devices

Agenda Setting: How social media empowers opinion leaders and influences voters

The 44th President via Jumbotron

Comparing how the Presidential candidates are using new media this year, the 2008 race looks like the social media stone age. Back then Myspace was still the largest social network, Facebook was considered a mainstay for mostly students, and the most followed account on Twitter was then candidate Barack Obama. That campaign was noted for it’s pioneering use of new media, at a time when few politicians had social media profiles, but the benefits were immediately understood and adopted by nearly every campaign since 2008.

I was lucky to have a front row seat to the communications changes taking place that year, both as one of the early adopters of Twitter (when the site had only a million users) and as a graduate student in DC studying public communications.  That fall I was enrolled in Matthew Nisbet‘s course in Communication Theory, learning all about agenda setting by the newsmedia and the role of opinion leaders in swaying public opinion.  The 2008 elections proved a great working example to apply the theories I was learning. Continue reading Agenda Setting: How social media empowers opinion leaders and influences voters

TV by the Numbers: How I cut-the-cord and share my viewing online

Remote Controller 2
As television networks kick off the upfronts introducing new programs and picking up where existing series left off, there is increasing conversation about using social media to connect fans and viewers with their favorite shows, as well as how many may be cutting-the-cord altogether. Full disclosure: I’m an employee at Nielsen, who have a great perspective of cross-platform insights into what consumers watch, but the measurements shared in this post are my own and are not necessarily shared by my employer.

First, here’s a funny and surprisingly accurate primer on how TV viewing is measured in the US (from Jess3 and ESPN):

Appointment Viewing

For the last two years I’ve been using social media tools like Get Glue, Miso, and IntoNow to track my viewing and to share my favorite TV shows with friends. These social networks use websites and smartphone apps to encourage more social viewing, opening up the sometimes isolated TV watching experience by connecting viewers who check-in to the same program and generating conversations among fans of the shows. For example, here are some of the shows I’ve checked-in to most recently: Continue reading TV by the Numbers: How I cut-the-cord and share my viewing online

Blogging by the numbers: Measuring my writing and blog readers

Ever since I started blogging in 2004 I’ve been trying to better understand my audience of blog readers through stats like unique visitors, pageviews, social media shares, or the number of comments readers add to each post. Analyzing these data points gives me a better a understanding of which pages interest my visitors most, and helps me think of new blog posts I hope will resonate with my audience. As an online marketing strategist I also try look at how readers come to my blog, focusing my efforts on what content I can offer which will introduce new readers to my blog, as well as how to connect with them outside my own website.

In the interest of trying to become more transparent as a blogger, here’s a look back measuring my own blog’s audience during 2011:

Matthew Hurst's Year in blogging 2011
Source: http://jetpack.me/annual-report/6790360/2011/
  • A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 4,900 times in 2011. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 4 trips to carry that many people.
  • In 2011 there were 15 new posts on the blog, growing the total archive on this blog to 61 posts so far.
  • Twitter and Facebook were my main sources of referral traffic, but increasingly Google+ brought new readers to my site.
  • I’ve had far fewer comments in 2011 than in previous years, and average less than a comment per post.
  • My most read posts in 2011 were actually from previous years, bringing in visitors searching for “Twitter internships” and how to become “Social Media Marketers“, showing the long-term value of SEO built through blog writing.
  • Continue reading Blogging by the numbers: Measuring my writing and blog readers

Is Google vs Facebook is a false dichotomy?

Google vs Facebook - Why can't we be friends?

As Facebook’s latest push to highlight Google’s potential privacy concerns was revealed this past week, their rivalry was once again brought to the forefront of the public’s attention. While the two web behemoths continue to compete for ad dollars and offer increasingly similar services, the press plays up their business competition. Yet this news represents larger themes at work about how online businesses impacts the media business in particular, and the wider communications and economic paradigms more generally.

For instance, I keep reading posts that assume as common knowledge that the Google and Facebook are competing for users’ loyalty, but have yet to see evidence that this is true.  Instead I’ve noticed the large overlap of users for both services, albeit for different purposes. As far as many consumers are concerned Google and Facebook serve different functions, with the former used to search for information and the latter for relevant social links and recomendations.

From a consumer’s perspective Google and Facebook serve differing functions, even while they begin to encroach on each others core businesses through their growth. This same story about competition may be written about Microsoft vs Google, vs Apple, or vs Twitter, and so on; conflict drives the news, even if it does not reflect the unique audiences for individual businesses. While each company has different offerings, it’s fully possible for consumers to use both sites together rather than competing.

Of course this news has broader implications for PR professionals everywhere, by reinforcing negative stereotypes of the profession. Because of irresponsible, overly-secretive behavior of individuals at one of PR’s largest agencies, professionals like myself may have our reputations damaged. It’s even worse among the tech businesses, which sometimes see PR as a function only meant to earn press, and these days many startups would rather try going it alone using blogs and social media. At the very least this serves as another example of when PR can cause blowback, rather than how integral it should be in building communications strategy.

It’s my hope that the so-called “PR war” between two of the most popular global web brands will end, and both companies will find a more proactive way to continue building their own audiences. The history of the web has been of evolving and growing use, rather than competition between competing sources (as in print and broadcast media before it) for our attention, and I’d expect this to be the inevitable outcome between Google and Facebook.

Blog Action Day 2010: Measuring the impact of Water use

Bottled Water Bar in Chicago's Museum of Science & IndustryWater is one of those things we never notice unless it’s unavailable. Sure I’ve been known brag about my hometown’s great tap water and am known to enjoy tasty beverages made from this resource, but besides the occasional outage I rarely consider it’s impact on my everyday life.  Yet for millions of people, access to clean, safe drinking water is not available, even if the solutions to this basic Human Right are simple.

As long as Water is a finite resource with limited availability to many, we should conserve this natural resource while increasing access to those who deserve our help. When I was writing my Master’s thesis on Energy Conservation (and last year’s Blog Action Day post), I had water in mind as well because it is another resource subject to increasing demand and inefficient use we take for granted in the United States.  Among my findings were that consumers were best encouraged to improve their usage of a resource when they have concrete examples of steps they can take to reduce their consumption (and the tools to measure them).

To better understand this issue, here’s a few ways to measure how we use Water everyday: Continue reading Blog Action Day 2010: Measuring the impact of Water use