Tag Archives: Associated Press

Choosing Ignorance

Ever had some fact creep up on you and scare you to death? I have had that experience this morning. It’s particularly disheartening because we’re coming up on an election year here in the US and one would hope that people are paying a bit more attention to the news than usual as they seek out facts and the information they need to make decisions. No, I’m not going down the political road. The point I’m going to make is about business, but I find it disturbing outside of business as well. Let’s see what you think.

Business Information Systems

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An organization called the Media Insight Project, which is an initiative of the American Press Institute and the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, conducted some research on how Millenials get news. The headline coming out of the research is that the vast majority of Millennials, people who are ages 18 to 34, regularly use paid content for entertainment or news.  53 percent report regularly using paid news content — in print, digital, or combined formats — in the last year.  That goes against the conventional wisdom that younger people won’t pay for content.  While that is a significant finding, in my mind it buries the lede, which is this:

Among those Millennials who say keeping up with the news is very important to them, only half personally pay for news content. And, even among Millennials who do pay for news, free services like Facebook and search engines are their most common sources for obtaining news on many topics.

In fact, as the study looked at different types of information, Facebook was cited most often as the source for national and political news, social issues, as well as crime and public safety even among those people who pay for news content.  Given that what you see on Facebook is based on an algorithm that reinforces your current attitudes and likes, and is NOT meant to provide you with an unbiased world view, this is pretty dangerous in my mind.  It’s a business problem as well.

Just because some Millenials make an effort to have the broader, less tilted sources of news and information available to them by paying, there is no requirement that they listen to those sources.  It’s not really enough to find the information if you’re going to choose to ignore it.  That’s as true in business as it is outside of the business world.  A younger adult’s willingness to pay for news is correlated with his or her broader beliefs about the value of news, the study found.  Your willingness to seek out business information – even paying for it – should also imply that you’re willing to pay attention and not just pay lip-service.  Are you choosing to do so, or are you choosing ignorance?

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Filed under Huh?, Reality checks


One of the themes we touch upon here is the repeating nature of events.  Or as Peter Allen put it, everything old is new again (so much so that Barenaked Ladieswrote a song by the same name).

Image representing Facebook as depicted in Cru...

Image via CrunchBase

Today’s meditation on this concerns Facebook, or rather an interesting bit of research that came out from the AP and CNBC concerning Facebook’s future.  They conducted the poll in anticipation of Facebook going public and my immediate reaction was AOL‘s trajectory morphing to MySpace‘s morphing to…???   The AP piece summed it up with this question:

Is Facebook A Fad?

You’re laughing?  46% of the poll respondents believe Facebook  will fade away as new companies come along, and it’s not just the old farts – younger adults are no more apt than their older counterparts to expect Facebook’s long-term success; 51 percent think it will fade.

For those of us who have been in digital since the start of the commercial era, it’s not a weird question.  Fifteen years ago, one would have asked the same of AOL and could not have imagined that it would pretty much be a blip.  The rise and fall of MySpace is much more recent but illustrative.  So quit your laughing and think about how the nature of the beast is changing.  Facebook is going from a company built to attract and service folks like you and me to a company that’s built to attract and service marketers.  That’s not necessarily a bad thing except that Facebook seem to be bad at it.

You might have read that General Motors is pulling its advertising from Facebook.  That’s a $10 million deal — not massive in terms of value — but very embarrassing for the social network because apparently it was too hard for GM to quantify their ROI.  The poll data supports that thinking – 57% of users say they never click on ads or sponsored content, while 26 percent “hardly ever” click on them.

Like AOL long ago, there are some other underlying factors that might portend bad things.

  • Just 13 percent say they trust Facebook completely or a lot to keep their personal information private.
  • A large majority (59 percent) say they have little or no faith in the company to protect their privacy.
  • Even among the site’s most frequent users — those who use it multiple times a day —half say they would not feel safe making purchases through the site.

There’s another great analysis from Forrester here and I’m sure more will be written as Facebook’s IPO happens later this week.  So is Facebook a fad?  I’ll let you respond via the comments, but my thinking is that while “fad” might not be the right term, it’s definitely not invulnerable.  Given the underlying concerns from users and marketers, someone ought to spend an hour reviewing the history of AOL and recall that MySpace went from “the most popular site in the US” in 2006 to losing half its traffic between 2009 and 2010.  What’s your thinking?

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Filed under digital media