This morning we in the UK, have awoken to another Daily Mail front page reminiscent (as Yvette Cooper MP very rightly states) of the 1950s rather than 2017.
Embedded from Yvette Cooper MP on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/YvetteCooperMP
Now I’m not going to debate this headline, the image or the blatant misogyny here. I think it’s safe to say that it’s disgusting, sexist and honestly totally laughable, especially considering the purpose of the PM and the leader of the SNP’s meeting. What I would like to talk about however, is the funding of the Daily Mail.
I very frequently see Social Media updates from an organisation called Stop Funding Hate who focus on large corporates who pay hefty advertising sums to the Daily Mail, The Sun and similar news outlets to appear both in their printed publications as well as on their now massive online platforms such as MailOnline. Most recently the campaigns have made news for securing withdrawal of Lego’s advertising budgets. This morning they have focused on the Co-Op for continuing to fund the Daily Mail’s sexism.
Getting News Online
I recently started using the iPhone ‘News’ app when one of the recent updates meant that it appeared nicely when I swipe left on my screen (no tinder jokes please). Unfortunately, I found it really difficult to tell the app what I wanted to see, and what I didn’t. Take a look below to see what I mean.
Now the news app (whilst I’m sure isn’t that widely used, most apple specific apps in my phone go in a relatively untouched folder name ‘Apple Sh*t’) is just a small example of how easy it is to peruse the web and end up lost in a sea of ‘so and so shows off leggy figure’ or ‘so and so flaunts a perky cleavage’.
Getting News through Social Media
Many of us will now spend a lot of our time on Social media browsing news outlets. The line between traditional journalism and click-bait articles specifically designed for social media has been considerably blurred in recent years, with the advent of companies such as Buzzfeed, the Ladbible and more. Traditional news outlets now sprinkle in ’20 reasons you want to date a Cardiff girl’ articles whenever they need a surge in clicks to hit their targets. The goal of most of these outlets now is to keep you on their website once you’ve got there through Facebook / Twitter etc, for as long as possible. Why? Because they want you to be well-informed about today’s latest news, politics and business? No, because they need longer visit times to entice advertisers.
This is why you see interesting user interface features down the sides of sites like MailOnline. I mean, who can really resist high converting taglines such as ‘Busty Michelle Mone shocks GMB viewers as she cuts a VERY glamorous figure…’
According to the umbrella website from Daily Mail and General Trust plc the MailOnline is “the world’s largest English-speaking newspaper website with more than 211 million monthly unique visitors globally. MailOnline offers a unique amalgam of fresh, sensational, breaking and reliable news.”
Unfortunately it’s also home to re-targeted ads such as those from one of my favourite make-up brands, Charlotte Tilbury (damn you Charlotte!).
So why am I making reference to this? When I go out to groups of people, often those who haven’t grown up with social media, to train them on how Facebook and Twitter works, many of them are surprised to the level of which Facebook and media sites are tracking their use and serving them up different things according to what they click on. It is now integral to Social Media companies and online news sites to track and measure their users’ preferences. If you run an online site and wish to sell advertising space on there, the first thing a potential customer would ask you is ‘how many people visit your site?’ Advertisers want to know how many people visit, how long they are there for, and what kind of user behavior they have – how old are they? Are they male or female? What are their shopping habits etc. With the level of usage that Facebook tracks, it can tell you a huge amount of information to help you make informed advertising choices.
Facebook Page Articles
To give you an insight into how this affects your newsfeed, on my personal Facebook account I mostly get news and articles from two different sources served up to me organically (i.e. non-paid for). These are Mashable – a popular social media and techy new site, and HelloGiggles – a cutesy positive space for women and girls online. Out of the literally hundreds of Facebook pages I am a ‘fan’ of, these two are in my newsfeed everyday. Why? Because I continually show interest in them. When they serve me up an article I like the look of, I’ll click into it and read, multiple times per day. If you do the same with ‘MailOnline’ guess what? That’ll happen to you again and again too, until you know the ins and outs of the Kardashian lifestyle and the exact carat of diamond Kim had stolen.
And what happens every time you click into these innocuous articles? A journalist gets another number on their results sheet, makes another decision to run a similar story, and the sales teams have another positive data set to take to advertisers. In the world of social media and digital advertising everything is measured in views, impressions, clicks and conversion rates. So every time you click on an article you hate, you are inadvertently funding the corporation who owns this media.
Careful What You Click
It’s no longer enough just to boycott physical papers – Online news will completely destroy paper publications soon enough. It’s tempting to click on these articles just so that you can ‘know your enemy’ but if you see a headline you know you’re not going to like anyway, just don’t click on it. And if you must click on? Please don’t click on the adverts inside it – go and visit the site separately or better still, use something like Quidco and get some money back yourself.
And you know what you can do with your Quidco earned ‘Top cashback’? Go and pay for a subscription to a news outlet you respect and enjoy. A journalist challenged me recently when I complained about the highly irritating surveys on the Wales Online site. He asked if I’d consider paying for my news. Other than my TV license fee I’ve never considered it. I’ve seen the ‘donate to the Guardian’ button hundreds of times and not clicked it once. Maybe I should…