Facebook lets sketchy Dr. Oz Ad Use Rolling Stone’s name

The other day I clicked on this Facebook ad, chiefly because I was surprised to see Rolling Stone do a story like this:

ShaniaTwainFacebookAd

I landed on a weird page with a Good Housekeeping logo and seemingly nothing to do with Rolling Stone. Here’s the URL:

http://www.individualhosts.com/st-fy/goodhousekeeping/news/indexc.html?voluumdata=vid..00000001-9ad2-4c52-8000-000000000000__vpid..f98bd800-3d14-11e5-852b-f2b8b4cc5cdd__caid..b250df16-0839-4c93-b4b5-8c53296947e3__rt..R__lid..4d193a20-1053-41ab-979b-8b7d9e82aa51__oid1..5df07c75-6138-41dd-9abb-5c91dcb8dde3__oid2..2a30ed04-2c56-4e1e-b32e-ae8c6d586ad4__var1..acctest31n1__rd..www%5C.%5Cfacebook%5C.%5Ccom&CREATIVE_ID=acctest31n1

There are all sorts of other magazine logos on the page including Vanity Fair and People, which are owned by separate companies. The whole thing made no sense.

ShaniaTwainGoodHousekeepingLandingPage

The article itself started off fairly normally for a women’s magazine, although not at all like something you’d see in Rolling Stone, and then it took a strange turn into botox territory.
ShaniaTwainScamArticle

The plot thickened as Dr. Oz got into the act.

ShaniaTwainDrOzScam

All I can say is that this has to be a violation of Facebook’s terms of service and if I were Rolling Stone or any of the other publishers, I would be mad as hell. If Facebook’s going to play in the big publishing leagues, it can’t be doing things like this.

Yes, you can buy Fluke Networks’ troubleshooting kit (AT 2000/CableIQ Gigabit Service) on Amazon

The easiest and cheapest way to buy Fluke Networks LRAT2-CIQ-GSV Linkrunner AT 2000/CableIQ Gigabit Service Kit is on Amazon.

This portable troubleshooting kit is used for analyzing and testing Ethernet networks over copper and fiber optic cable infrastructure.

Check it out on Amazon and save $400

Hey, newspaper editors and publishers, radio’s where it’s at

Newspapers need to start their own live radio shows

As newspapers everywhere fool around with video, Twitter and Facebook, they’re ignoring the one medium that really makes sense for them — radio. This is especially strange given that the only news media habit the internet doesn’t appear to have changed is radio listening. News junkies like me may have given up our print newspapers and TV newscasts, but we still listen to the radio just like we used to.

The ratings for news and information radio — CBC Radio One in Canada and NPR in the U.S. — bear this out. Overall, U.S. radio listening has been trending upwards since 2005.

So, why is information radio holding on so strong?

  1. It tells you what’s happening in the world, offering up a news, weather, traffic and sports package that’s more needed than ever when you don’t subscribe to a newspapers.
  2. Terrestrial radio is still the easiest to listen to. While live streaming radio — on a computer or smart phone — is simple enough, it’s not nearly as reliable as old fashioned AM and FM radio quite yet. Podcasts still take too many steps and too much planning.

With the “internet of things” on its way, however, internet radio is only going to get better and more convenient. And newspapers should be entering this key market now. After all, radio shows have been interviewing newspaper reporters and columnists for years because they go places and do things that broadcast reporters often don’t. No radio or TV station in any major market can match the local newspaper for newsroom size and capacity.

By starting their own news and information radio shows, newspapers can showcase and promote themselves and earn revenues. Here’s what they need to do:

  1. Make a few smart hires from the world of broadcasting.
  2. Build a cheap radio studio
  3. Tell employees to give up their gigs with the competition
  4. Hit “On Air”
  5. Post on Twitter and Facebook that you’re live and people need to tune in

Thinking about online ‘newspaper’ design

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about the best design for delivering news online. In a nutshell, I’d say there are three rules that must be followed:

  1. Make it crystal clear what your site is about — NO confusion!!!
  2. Make it white.
  3. Make it minimalist.

It’s pretty obvious that following these three rules has helped make Google the success it is today, so why do so many others continue to ignore them?

For example, I have yet to figure out what Daylife‘s about, Yahoo’s new Shine portal completely overloads me, and the Toronto Star‘s new health site not only has way too much going on on the page, but it’s also not clear whether the banner on top of the site is a logo or an ad. I had to click to find out it was the logo.

Funnily enough, what Google does on its main page is basically what broadsheet newspapers have done for decades.

They take the main event — in Google’s case, the search function — and give it by far the most prominent play meaning biggest font and often an accompanying picture.

Newspapers tell you about their other more specialized sections or, in Google’s case, their specialized search functions for news, maps, images, blogs, etc. Google also has no ads on the front page as many newspapers did for years. It is reserved for the most important stuff, which sometimes also includes quirky, as in the special illustrations. The ads and less important content goes elsewhere.

So online newspapers, how about it? Stop the crazy overload. Make the front page for the day’s top stories and give clear links to the more specialized content. After all, the classic front page was such a good idea that Google took it!

Italian restaurants in Montreal

Reviewed by Lesley Chesterman and Gazette critics

This is a list of some of the hottest new Italian restaurants in Montreal along with a few old stand-bys. All come highly recommended for one reason or another.

Please feel free to add your favourite Italian restaurants in the comments section and be sure to provide specific examples of why you think they’re the best. Needless to say, you should also chime in if you think a much-praised restaurant is overrated or disappointing.

Graziella

Lesley Chesterman wrote last month:

I have so many good things to say about this week’s restaurant that I’m afraid you’ll think its owner is bribing me, blackmailing me or is my second cousin once removed. None of the above. The reason I enjoyed it is because it fits what I like about food now…fancified comfort food that features pure flavours and simple cooking techniques. As a fan of the latter it isn’t a stretch to say that if I imagined my fantasy restaurant, this week’s could be it.

Fish and seafood dishes came especially highly recommended as did the desserts. Read the full review.

Phone: 514-876-0116

La Cantina

Far from downtown, just north of Metropolitain Blvd., La Cantina was described by Chesterman as “a well-kept secret … (where) crowds of regulars converge at lunch and dinner for delicious food made with top-quality ingredients, courteous and professional service, a wine list with interesting bottles at many price points, and an ambience that is molto simpatico!”

Phone: 514-382-3618

Le Piemontais

Chesterman calls this old-fashioned Italian restaurant ”solid” and recommends it if you’re heading to or from nearby Place des Arts for a concert. “The menu features just about every traditional Italian dish, ranging from antipasto to cassata with a dozen classic pastas and rich meat and fish dishes in between. Yet considering the innovative eats we’re fed these days, classic can either be an opportunity to renew your faith in traditional fare, or an unwelcome reminder of how far food has evolved,” she writes. Full review here.

Phone: 514-861-8122

Rugantino

On St. Laurent Blvd. north of the hipster strip and south of Little Italy. Chesterman says, “This chef-owned Italian restaurant features simple, traditional and regional Italian cuisine prepared with high-quality ingredients. The reasonably priced daily specials offer the most seasonal selections.”

Phone: 514-277-6921

Liverpool House

This is the newest restaurant of the trio who put together the highly praised Joe Beef and it’s just down the street from their firstborn. While there are old English favourites like roast beef and roast chicken on the menu, there’s also plenty of Italian. Chesterman writes:

You’ll spot dishes like ricotta gnocchi, papardelle with mushrooms, and liver wrapped in mortadella, which begs the question: Is Liverpool House more Tony Soprano or Martha Stewart?

Main courses carried on in the same Anglo/Italian vein. Linguini with shrimp is as classic as it gets, and with gorgeous meaty jumbo shrimp and a nice hit of spice in the sauce, this rendition was thoroughly satisfying. I also adored the pork “Milanese,” a thin cutlet of pounded pork loin, breaded, deep-fried and served in a pool of that excellent tomato sauce. Piggy? Absolutely! But delicious nonetheless, especially as the meat was so tender and topped with a thin layer of melted provolone. Yum.

A coconut tart was the favourite dessert. Read the full review.

Phone: 514-313-6049

Roberto

Pinch-hitting restaurant critic Brian Kappler headed out to Roberto last summer. It’s a neighbourhood restaurant that’s good enough to also be a destination dining spot. The gelateria downstairs is considered one of the city’s best.

As appetizers Kappler recommended grilled asparagus paired with roasted portobello mushroom slices, topped with melted goat cheese, and grilled calamari rings, garnished with cherry tomatoes and a little oil. He wrote:

We were able to sample a range of main dishes, from a $7.50 grilled-vegetables sandwich to the slow-roasted lamb for four times as much. The sandwich, on a ciabatta-type roll, was pleasingly filled with grilled eggplant, onion and mushrooms, plus some tomato and lettuce and a hint of bocconcini. Slow-roasted meats are a Roberto specialty, with piglet, osso bucco, duck, rabbit, veal shank and liver on the la carte menu.

The full review is here.
Phone: 514-374-9844

Vella

This restaurant couldn’t survive where it does without something special to offer and in its case, that’s Portuguese dishes along with the mainly Italian fare. Chesterman wrote, “Word is obviously getting around that Vella is a great destination for a hearty meal at a fair price. The mostly Italian menu features rustic dishes like pastas, risottos and braised meats as well as Portuguese food, with a section of the appetizers devoted to cod. ” Reservations are a must.

Phone: 514-274-8447

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And since I wrote this, I’m allowing myself to stick in one of my favourite Italian joints. Amelio’s has the best white pizza in town and meat sauce to die for. Plus, it’s cheap and BYOB.

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I put this list of Italian restaurants in Montreal together as a local search experiment.I’ll keep you informed on how it turns out.

Good User Generated Content Doesn’t Just Happen

It needs human intervention on a major scale

I use user generated content on my websites almost every day. I blog photos from Flickr, post relevant YouTube videos, solicit information from readers and get tip-offs from them. Some fans of my sites even go so far as to send me topless pictures of themselves with their dogs – which, if they are tasteful, I post.

Abigail Stewart and Pippi photographed by Howard Christopherson of Icebox Studio.

And yet, for some reason, despite all this, I have written at the top of this website that I’m sceptical about the potential of user generated content or UGC, as it’s known in Web 2.0 circles. What I should really say is that I’m sceptical about the potential of pure, unadulterated UGC because I spend an awful lot of time sifting though mediocre and bad UGC to find and add value to the good stuff. Make no mistake about it — creating the final UGC-heavy product is an editing job in every sense – a new type of editing job for the evolving world of online but a full-fledged job nonetheless.

UGC that is of value to readers and therefore to a publisher or any other kind of business just doesn’t happen on its own. There either have to be humans assigned to work on it, in an editorial capacity as I do, or other humans to invent ever more responsive technological systems that allow sites to showcase the best UGC as, for example, Amazon does. Without either of these things or some combination of both, your UGC will almost certainly be worthless.

Over the next few days, I’m going to take a look at UGC in news reporting, local search, and arts and entertainment coverage. I’m starting with books, movies and restaurants.
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Amazon, pioneer in UGC, never stops introducing innovations and improving its product as this example from its “The Other Boleyn Girl” page shows:


Readers rate the “helpfulness” of the individual book reviews so that you can read the “most helpful” first and skip the other stuff, which is a great time saver. This system is heavily dependent on automatic and constantly-evolving technology.

Amazon’s subsidiary IMDB is another top site which uses UGC. It’s not got all the bells and whistles of Amazon but there are a number of filters to help users find what they want without scrolling through masses of inferior and/or irrelevant reviews.


Compare this to Cinema Clock’s UGC. This Canadian company ranks extremely well in major cities if you google phrases like Montreal movies or Vancouver movies, but it’s done little to maximize its UGC so even though it has a good critical mass of reviews: — 77 for “The Other Boleyn Girl” as compared to 64 on IMDB — you’re unlikely to spend much time on the site once you know when your show is playing.


Given that Cinema Clock offers Canadians something they need that IMDB doesn’t — namely local show times — it should have done more with its UGC because if IMDB, with its huge reader base, moves to show local movie times in Canada or promote this feature elsewhere, Cinema Clock and other similar local sites will be dead in no time.

Trickier than the movie and book market because it must rely mostly on a smaller pool of local users, as opposed to users everywhere, is the restaurant review market. I hear Yelp is good and it’s certainly successful at attracting enough people (chicken or egg?) in its original markets but I have yet to find anything with the necessary critical mass in either Montreal or Toronto. Chowhound will sometimes have an interesting discussion going about a certain restaurant but it’s hit or miss. The rest are non-starters or I can’t find them.

My feeling is that if you want to get a good local restaurant site up to the necessary critical mass, you’ve got to use strong seed content to get some buzz going along with active moderation otherwise you’re doomed to be one on those many, many operations with a template for every restaurant in town and no copy of interest to anyone.

Even Torstar Digital’s experiment in this type of social media, which launched last summer with a very big powerful brand behind it, has had less than stellar results. In an interview with Profectio, Candice Faktor, General Manager of both ourfaves.com and toronto.com so much as admits it:

We were the first Canadian large media company to organically create a user generated content / social network site in Canada and as such we have learned a tremendous amount about launching new ventures in the web 2.0 space…

The venture has been very successful to date from a growth and internal learning perspective. The site has grown significantly, achieving record-breaking traffic growth month over month.

The stats, the stats please:

As of Dec 2007, the site was at 130,000 unique visitors / month, 7,500 faves had been created, and we had over 350,000 pageviews. Our recent “my fave day” promotion, awarding the winner with $2,500 towards their local favourites, has doubled our user base and content on the site. We only recently added advertising on the site, and we have Olive Canada Network repping the site. So far, the advertiser response to the site has been very encouraging, they especially like that Ourfaves content is positive and highly contextual.

All that brand, all that advertising and only 130,000 uniques per month?! What’s missing here? Try, good content. Doesn’t matter whether it’s UGC or expert generated, what matters is that it’s good enough to keep people coming back and build some word of mouth and Google rankings. And to do that you need people who understand not just web 2.0 and airy-fairy UGC dreams but content. The readers aren’t fooled so why do so many wannabe Web 2.0 entrepreneurs keep fooling themselves. I know people in their basements who get 130,000 uniques in two hours a day for one tenth the budget.

The glass-half-full version, of course, is Toronto still doesn’t have a top-ranked, great restaurant site with UGC as part of the mix so there’s a slot to be filled for an entrepreneur with an editorial budget.

Update: Genuine VC’s “All That (Content) Glitters is not Gold” makes some good points about UGC including this, which definitely applies to Ourfaves.com: “Just because users can create a collection of content, it doesn’t mean that it is in turn valuable to consume it.”

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Part II of this series: UGC and News is now up

Sounds like an information cascade to me

The Globe and Mail‘s Mathew Ingram has a post on how the Obama ‘Yes We Can’ video “went from blockbuster media event and unadulterated success story to backlash in about 48 hours — less time than it would have taken for a typical campaign video to even be distributed to TV networks a few years ago, let alone watched by almost two million people, posted to blogs, commented on and analyzed. Fascinating.”

Interesting indeed, but isn’t it just an information cascade on the internet? It never fails to amaze me how when someone makes a controversial post or does something on the internet, almost all the intial commenters agree until one comes along and says, “Hey, wait a minute.” And then all the other “dissenters” come out of the woodwork.

It will be interesting to see if the verdict on this particular video sticks or what readjustments will take place now that both points of view are available for people to agree or disagree with.

Hyperlocal News is over-hyped (now updated)

There are some interesting comments on hyperlocal news at Buzz Machine. I must admit I’ve never understood why so many people see hyperlocal as the wave of the future, but then I’ve never been overly interested in local news. (And yes I hate the word hyperlocal too but for lack of an alternative I’ll just use it anyway.)

When I hear the virtues of hyperlocal extolled, I always want to know what exactly the extollers think is currently going uncovered. Anyone have any examples to give? And I do agree with the commenter who says, that once you get started, you can never be hyperlocal enough.

This is not to say that I don’t see opportunities in local. Google does fall down when it comes to telling me the best Italian restaurants in town and also on helping me find out how good that pasta place on the corner is. Chowhound might help or I might find a review from one of the local papers — or not. But I would welcome a nice, smart site that would do all that work for me — and find me a good plumber too.

Unfortunately, I don’t think user generated content is the answer. Some user generated content maybe, but I also think a good moderator/guide/modified gatekeeper has to figure somewhere in the equation otherwise you just end up in a big time-sucking hole.
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Here are some other sceptical reports on hyperlocal:

Is EveryBlock is going to bump into EveryProblem that BlockRocker did?

Wrong On Hyperlocal: Google And Web 1.0 Killed Backfence

Does hyper-local make sense online?
(with lots of great links)
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Update:
Paid Content reports on the Dealmakers Summit where the NYT’s Lorne Manly interviewed Chris Saridakis, Gannett’s new SVP and chief digital officer, who came to the company in 2005 when Gannett acquired his online advertising company, Pointroll, for $100 million. Commenting on demographics, Saridakis said:

The traditional newspaper model targets people based on where they live, but this needs to change: “You just can’t target people by places, you target people by who they are.” Gannet has identified certain demographics, with whom it already has a print link, that it can do more to reach. Among them: sports fans, moms, nurses, military personnel. The company has already made some acquisitions aimed at sports fans and it’s established a network of mom-focused suites. Following the session, I caught up with Saridakis, who suggested that some of the company’s M&A; activity would revolve around the idea of targeting certain demographics, particularly the ones named above.

As far as editorial content is concerned, this kind of targeting makes way more sense to me than hyperlocal. Where hyperlocal does enter into it, however, is in the advertising arena — and especially when what’s being advertised is services that can’t be ordered on the internet. Here’s Saridakis on the “dollars for dimes” problem.

Probably the most critical, but difficult issue. Advertising: “The nice thing is, and I think Gannett has been able to prove it, you can sell online local advertising… it may be collecting dimes, but we have a lot of people collecting dimes.” In addition to targeting local ads, Gannett can aggregate an audience by vertical and sell that audience to a national advertiser.