Friday errata (not erotica, silly!)

I have been feeling not so well and less energetic than usual but have not forgotten that I left unfinished last week the essay, “Learning to think like a molecule.” I don’t quite muster the enthusiasm to finish it today but I do want to share a few squibs to get my fingers and brain cells working in unison.

Want more clicks, provide more headlines: This tip from an online publisher who runs a series big branded sites. There is 0.65 correlation between the number of headlines posted and the average click through rates to revenue-producing advertisements. That means there is a two out of three chance that more items per page will increase the click-through rate. But don’t expect Google AdSense to be a money-maker this publisher said. The allure of its tiny ads has greatly faded on this person’s site, from the $20,000 per month range in the 2004 time frame to mere hundreds per month now! That reminds me that I have seen mentions that interspersing the AdSense into the body of the text versus on the side increases click-through but if a rate of increase was mentioned I have forgotten. One last tip: travel ads offer good payouts, in the tens of dollars versus the tens of cents, this publisher says.

Strength in weeklies says chief: Richard Anderson runs, a web site joined to community weeklies in Maine. Anderson has created an open source content management system for running an online website. You’ll find a good peek behind the scenes of his operation in a posting by Amy Gahran of the Poynter Institute (Gahran mentioned other content management sites in a prior item). At the conference last week Anderson presented what amounts to a sales pitch for adoption of the VillageSoup system and I am not sure if there are recurring charges for support or whether a Knight Grant that he won is supposed to underwrite the proliferation of his system. But he mede a few interesting assertions — notably a comment to the effect that there is the potential for a weekly news outlet for every 30,000 people. He thinks the weekly is the best bet in terms of periodicity for a print product and his online software seems to be geared toward gathering easy advertising support plus easy user-generated input. These are combined with staff-written and edited copy to produce the weekly print fodder – or so I gleaned. Do visit the site and if you have a weekly or an unserved population of 30,000 demanding attention, perhaps VillageSoup is for you.

Shame on MediaPost for the Pollyanna headline “smaller newspapers still thriving.” Really? Upon reading the story, however, we learn that:

“total Sunday circulation of newspapers with circulations less than 20,000 was down a modest 2.7% compared to 4.6% for newspapers overall, and . . . Many are also enjoying revenue growth . . . (in part because) . . . small markets present more barriers to entry to online competitors than big metro areas . . . from news aggregators and broadcast news outfits that post text stories on the Web.”

Please, this is not thriving so much as it is milking the local distribution monopoly by jacking up print ad rates and benefiting from the geographic isolation that makes them disinteresting to big Web brands. If there are 30,000 people in these areas maybe the local weekly should download the VillageSoup software and light a fire under their complacency.