Blogging The Boys (blog)
Cowboys hot topic: The defense is their Achilles' heel (again)
Blogging The Boys (blog)
There are still some issues for the offense of the Dallas Cowboys, but in the last two games, there were some strong signs they are at least finding ways to overcome them. In particular, the long touchdown drive to retake the lead inside of two minutes …
The IPO market is poised to make an almost complete 180 turnaround after a bleak Q1 and a very quiet summer. JPMorgan alone said they werelaunching 20 global IPOs, and has successfully launched nine in the U.S. to strong demand. The broad market (S&P 500) has largely recovered, as well, from a low point of 1,810 earlier this year to a current (near) record level of 2,193 (as of September), a 21 percent move.
In contrast, venture capital investments, which had recalibrated alongside the IPO market in the second half of last year, have remained sedate with a clear flight to quality; fewer rounds, for higher-quality companies, with larger check sizes.
Private funding activity cannot recover as fast as the public markets. While the music seems to be back on at the IPO party, aspects of the private market re-calibration may be permanent. Eighteen months ago a SAAS company with $1 million of revenue in their first year of operation would have had a solid shot at a Tier 1 Series A. Today, those companies go wanting, resorting to second seeds and inside rounds.
The IPO window quickly cooled in August of 2015, marked by the BETR and RUN IPOs. Both were significantly oversubscribed deals that opened and traded poorly, as they werent able to attract real buyers/holders.
The buyer fatigue was palpable.IPO volume dried up and a buyers market set in.
This closure was very well publicized, with pundits claiming it was because of market volatility caused by any number of factors, including the election, oil prices, the Fed raising rates, Brexit, China/Brazil economies, etc. Theres been little resolution to many of these factors, yet investors have still regained an appetite for IPOs.
Insiders claimed there was a complete shift in investor sentiment from growth to value, or more specifically to growth with value in the form of profitability or an obvious path to it. Investors were also concerned about debt-laden companies. This message reverberated across Silicon Valley, where companies were advised to decrease burn and show sustainability by demonstrating an ability to make money.
Tech multiples, which compressed significantly at the beginning of the year, have recovered, but not to levels as lofty as early 2015:
Two months ago, the general consensus was that the IPO market would shut down until at least 2017 essentially 17 months with almost no IPO deal flow.
Just like that, IPOs are back in favor all fear evaporated, all hesitation erased without any resolution to the supposed issues that precipitated the pullback originally. Perhaps all anyone needed was a breather in the shape of the most severe IPO drought since the recession.
Private company fundings followed the IPO markets lead dropping from 1,333 in Q3 2015 to 1,137 in Q4. Deal volume stayed suppressed through Q2 2016, and this year is on pace to be slower than 2012.
Opportunity is knocking for VCs willing to go against the grain.
Dollars raised in 2016 versus 2015, but not as significantly as deals quantity; fewer deals for larger dollars were done for the biggest and best private companies.
As the IPO market cooled, private funding showed an even more severe and immediate flight to quality. Uber and Snap alone account for $4.5 billion of the $31.8 billion in U.S. VC-backed financing in 2016. High-flyers like Slack, Airbnb and Spotify also commanded sizable rounds at, often, sizable prices.
Select innovative sub-sectors, such as artificial intelligence, insurance tech, autonomous driving and virtual reality also saw demand and excitement in line with early 2015 levels. Otherwise, venture investors have returned to more cautious, diligence-focused investing, as they had before unicorn euphoria hit, and with the complete retreat of crossover investors, venture remains largely a buyers market.
The bias toward proven stories has led to a significant decrease in the number of unicorns created in 2016. Twelve unicorns were created in the first two quarters of the year, compared to 49 in Q2 and Q3 of 2015.
With stocks touching all-time highs, and IPOs once again coming to market (and performing), the public market recovery is clear. Banks have said the IPO market will remain extremely active through the end of the year and into 2017.
The cracks in venture cant be repaired that quickly. Renewed VC prudence hasnt slowed down innovation, but it has slowed getting that innovation through the funding machine.
There has been a meaningful shift in VC interest in a companys technology to the company itself. VC investors want to see infrastructure, track record and reliability, not just the next big idea. The rhetoric of tell me how you are going to become the next billion-dollar business has turned into tell me how you are going to make this a sustainable business.
So the large, clear winners still attract a buying frenzy, but it has become much harder for most companies, especially smaller companies, to raise. However, opportunity is knocking for VCs willing to go against the grain that have now been given more time and pricing power to selectively uncover the next unicorn.Continue reading
SB Nation Memo To Underpaid Writers: Unspecific Changes Will Happen, Details To Come
It also assures that SB Nation brass âwant to create new ways for all of us to make money that aren't just BLOG HARDER,â which, the memo says, should solve the problem of only financially stable people being able to afford to blog for SB Nation:.
Blogging The Boys (blog)
Jerry Jones comments on national anthem, ESPN suspends reporter for Twitter reaction
Blogging The Boys (blog)
Last night, after the Cowboys lost to the Packers, Jerry Jones commented on the recent controversy surrounding players protesting during the playing of the national anthem. After the Cowboys seemed to find a middle ground previously by kneeling as a …
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones: Any player who is 'disrespectful to the flag' won't be allowed to playDallas News
The protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline at the Standing Rock Indian Reservation in North Dakota are, on the surface, about water quality. The pipeline’s planned route—which closely mirrors the path of the would-be Keystone XL pipeline—goes right through the tribe’s water source. And like Keystone XL (which President Obama vetoed this February), the Dakota Access Pipeline has taken on larger significance as a conduit for worsened global climate change.
There is no question as to whether the protest, if successful, would protect the tribes water. No pipe, no possibility of a spill. But do protests like these significantly lessen the impact of global climate change? One waymaybe the only wayto know is to look at how protests affect the price of oil. “We have to look at if it is impacting the industry, and potentially discouraging or constraining their profits, so they have less incentive to produce oil,” says Lorne Stockman, research director for Oil Change International, a nonprofit that tracks fossil fuel economics.
Fossil fuels are great energy sources because they are cheapand transportable, and storablebut let’s focus on the cheap. If fossil fuels get more expensive, things like electronic vehicles and renewable energy sources become more attractive to investors and consumers. Then, theoretically, the market goes green. (Economics are way more complicated than that, but I’m gonna keep this 101-level.)
The first thing to consider is the Dakota Access Pipeline’s cost$3.8 billion to connect the Bakken oil fields in North Dakota to another pipeline (leading to refineries on the Gulf Coast) in Pakota, Illinois. An analysis by RBN Energy says oil producers will pay around $8 per barrel to move their crude through Dakota Access. At max capacity, the pipeline could carry about 570,000 barrels per day. So, if the pipe runs at peak, the pipeline will earn its owners, Energy Transfer Partners, roughly $1.7 billion a year. That means the pipeline only needs a few years to put the investment back into the black.
No surprise there: Moving oil makes money. But the Dakota Access Pipeline was built on promises, and can only move oil (and make money) if it delivers. Energy Transfer Partners promised to have the pipeline finished by the end of December 2016. In return, oil refiners promised to buy oil delivered through the pipeline for a certain cost. That stuff is in contracts, signed back in 2014.
Do you know what the price of oil was back in 2014? Seventy to 80 bucks a barrel, buddy! Currently, oil prices are way down, and profit margins in the oil industry are (by oil standards) pretty thin. Prices hover around $40 or $50 a barrel. “For sure, Energy Transfer Partners are concerned with delivering the pipeline by the end of the year, because otherwise they have to renegotiate their contracts, and no shipper who made terms in 2014 wants to renegotiate in 2017, says Stockman. Energy Transfer Partners probably can’t count on making $8 per barrel.
And maybe nothing at all. The global oil market is overstocked. With thin margins and a flooded oil market, producers might have little incentive to drill, baby, drill. Which would leave the Dakota Access Pipeline way under capacity, and the pipeline’s owners shortchanged.
That’s just if the protestors succeed in delaying the pipeline. But let’s say they shut down the whole ordeala long shot, considering Energy Shipping Partners is already moving ahead with other sections of the pipeline. In that case, oil companies drilling and fracking and pumping in the Bakken might have to use trains to move their crude to Gulf Coast refineries. According to the same RBN Energy report, rail adds about $7 per barrel to the price of shipping Bakken crude.
Stockman estimates that shutting down the pipeline would keep nearly 30 coal-fired power plants worth of CO2 from the atmosphere each year. But really, that’s only if some other, cheaper-to-ship oil-producing region doesn’t pick up the slack.
In the US, oil fuels mostly cars. And really, the world’s oil markets are too complicated and noisy for this hypothetically successful protest to really cause gas prices to jump so much that they’d cause a mass shift to electronic vehicles. And that’s not the problem with EVs, anyway. “It’s already much cheaper to run an EV than a gas car, so its not really a cost competitiveness issue,” says David Timmons, a clean energy economist at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. “Its a matter of acceptability.” As in, consumers aren’t really interested in an electric car that can’t go more than 200 miles on a charge for less than $60,000, or charge its battery on a highway outside, say, California or the I-80 corridor. (Although, the Chevy Bolt and Tesla Model 3 will definitely change the math on all this.)
But that’s all short time scale stuff. Oil companies operate on 30 to 50 year horizons. If the Standing Rock protest is successful, it could cause other companies to reconsider the risks of investing in other pipeline projects.
And that works both ways. Say the protests fail, and the Dakota Access Pipeline operates for several more decades. Meanwhile, the US has promised to cut its emissions by 26 to 28 percent by 2025. “Should we really be building infrastructure for resources we don’t plan to use if we want to stop climate change?” says Stockman. That’s a pretty significant question that economics can’t answer.Continue reading
Residents explain why so many risk death to reach Europe, as the Guardian gains rare access to report from inside the country
The shrill blast of a whistle still makes Almaz Russom wince. Youre sleeping nicely, dreaming something, then it wakes you at 4.30am, he said, clenching his teeth and mimicking the pitch. I still dont like the sound of that whistle.
Russom, whose name has been changed here for his own protection, was giving a rare account of a military bootcamp in Eritrea, one of Africas most secretive totalitarian states. It forms part of a compulsory national service for young men and women, an indefinite purgatory that robs them of the best years of their lives and is the key to understanding why so many flee its borders.
Eritreans are now the third biggest group of people embarking on the risky Mediterranean crossing to Europe, with an estimated 5,000 leaving every month, behind only Syrians and Afghans. As the first British newspaper for a decade to gain access to this little-understood nation, the Guardian interviewed citizens, diplomats and government ministers about the motivating forces behind the mass exodus.
Most suggested that while poverty, joblessness and political repression are important, what sets Eritrea apart from many other African countries is the conscription that forces them to take on often interminable military and civilian work for the equivalent of less than $2 a day. Speaking in the capital, Asmara, Russom said: If they told you national service would end, it would be bearable. But it is never-ending.
He recalled being at a military training camp in the fierce heat of the Sahel which houses 20,000 conscripts at a time. A typical stint is six months, but he was lucky to spend only half that time there. The men were forced to sleep on the floor in tents and had to bring their own blankets, he continued. There are guys lying all around you. The food is not for fit for dogs.
You get a timetable showing what youll do today and tomorrow. Today might be running and political school, which is the history of the liberation struggle. Tomorrow might be shooting practice: most guys deliberately miss the target so they wont be recruited by the army. But they never tell you anything beyond that. They can call your name at any time and make you gather your things and you have no idea where youre going.
If youre not in position when they call, they will punish you. They might say Go and lie in the sun for an hour. It is so hot, it is worse than a beating. They can also tie you up in the eight binding your arms and legs behind you and make you lie in the sun for an hour. That is very painful because its like a stove: 55C. Its like youre close to the sun.
The camps are run by military trainers who have the power to impose discipline. Russom continued: You ask yourself, Why am I here? What did I do to deserve this? The next time I see my trainer in Asmara, Ill shoot him for making me lie in the sun. But when you see him in Asmara, you are friends: you buy a beer and tell your friend, This is the guy who tortured me at the camp.
There are usually two responses to any mention of Eritrea, a former Italian colony which gained independence from Ethiopia in 1993. One is a blank expression: Michela Wrong, author of a book about Eritrea, I Didnt Do it For You, said she frequently encountered people who had never heard of the place. The other is a kneejerk characterisation of this nation of 6 million as the North Korea of Africa.
It is a glib analogy that bestows on Eritrea an aura of mystery that is neither desired nor deserved, and not only because the country poses no nuclear threat. Far from the cult of personality around Kim Jong-un, President Isaias Afwerkis image is harder to find than those of leaders in many African nations, despite his 22-year rule. Tremendous progress has been made in healthcare, with HIV prevalence at less than 1%.
Residents reported that satellite television offers international news channels while Asmaras numerous internet cafes do not block websites except those featuring pornography. The WhatsApp and Viber messaging services are popular because they are thought difficult for the government to monitor. Warnings that the Guardians movements would be followed by government agents in the capital proved unfounded. You can say anything you like here, Russom confided. You can insult the president. It will be treated as a joke.
Foreign diplomats and development workers based in Asmara are mostly baffled by the Pyongyang comparison. Its not an adventure: not that much happens here, the spouse of one said. Its very safe. It feels more isolated than when we lived on an island.
However, Eritreas government has been its own worst enemy in feeding conspiracy theories among the diaspora and western pundits. It has repeatedly denied access to UN investigators and independent human rights watchdogs such as Amnesty International. Foreign media have been shut out for about 10 years, with a trickle of reporters permitted only in the past few months. The immense tourist potential of its Italian art deco and modernist architecture and pristine beaches has been squandered.
Instead the country is a political and economic pariah with streets full of bicycles, donkey-drawn carriages, 1960s cars and overcrowded buses. Power cuts are a way of life, the state-controlled mobile phone network is supplemented by public payphones and there are virtually no advertising billboards, newspapers or international brands except Coca-Cola. No, Eritrea does not resemble North Korea, observed Richard Poplak of South Africas Daily Maverick after a recent visit. It resembles Cuba 15 years ago.
The prosaic truth is that this is just another of the nasty regimes that persist in parts of the world. Eritrea is a one-party state with no elections, has had no functioning civil society since 2001 and, with at least 16 journalists currently behind bars, is ranked bottom of 180 countries assessed in Reporters Without Borders press freedom index. The regime sows paranoia and uncertainty, leading to divergent views over how far the limits of free speech can be tested.
A recent UN inquiry on human rights described extrajudicial killings, torture, arbitrary detentions, enforced disappearances, indefinite military conscription and forced labour. Its report found a pervasive control system used in absolute arbitrariness to keep the population in a state of permanent anxiety.
This mood was evident on the streets of Asmara, where a foreign photographer who took pictures of one of numerous beggars was swiftly approached by men in plain clothes and ordered to delete them. Strangers were polite and friendly but, when conversations turned to politics, guarded and hushed. Even standing here talking to a white man, I am taking a risk, one man muttered. If you publish my name, I will be taken in 24 hours.
The man, who did national service for 11 years, reflected: Now Im 32. What future do you think I have at 32? How old are you? What had you achieved by 32? The situation hits us hard, especially young people. They are leaving because there is no hope.
On the bustling, tree-lined Harnet Avenue, a young student kept walking as she remarked: We dont have diplomacy, we dont have freedom. I cannot speak as I want. There are no jobs. I want to study in London because my university cannot afford a lab.
And the head of an English language school pre-empted an interview by apologising: Im sorry, I dont know anything about politics. I wasnt born for that. Your questions are very interesting. If you find anyone wholl help you, youll succeed.
Money is scarce and opportunities are few. Solomon Beraki, 30, earns just 1,000 nafka (£43) a month as a student nurse. This is very little when you see it with our standard of living, he said. This is the main problem, not because people dislike the government or president, but because of their financial situation. There are many educated people who dont have enough work. They dont dislike national service but there is no cutoff point: it is lifelong.
Yafet Russom, who was running a small shop, said he earned just 800 nafka a month from national service. He was selling a loaf of bread for 3 nafka, a can of beans for 40, bottles of water for 35, tins of sardines for 58, cheese for 75 and a box of tea for 120. At the central fruit and spice market, a kilo of oranges went for 85 nafka, while a kilo of onions cost 60.
A different view was offered by Rebecca Haile, a retired nurse who now lives in the US but returns home to Eritrea regularly. The government doesnt torture people, the 65-year-old insisted. Its just politics. When people go to America, they just say it to get a green card. Most of them are not Eritrean but have come by an Eritrean name. Real Eritreans love their country.
A sticker with the words I love Eritrea adorns a locker in the offices of the government-backed National Union of Eritrean Youth and Students, whose courtyard has a full-size replica of the classical statue Discus-thrower (Discobolus). Okbay Berhe, 37, its deputy chairman, admitted that conscription was driving young people away but claimed it was for economic, not political reasons. Its not national service any more, he said.
Its uncertain time and its not easy for the youngest to tolerate that. This creates unemployment by default. If youre on national service you cant make money. It is killing opportunities as you cant make money for your family. There may be people who say they are leaving because the government is repressing them but they are trying to politicise these things. When they go to Europe about 70% send money back to their families because they know how their families are living. This is the main reason they go to Europe, logically.
Berhe believes that an additional factor is that western governments give Eritreans special treatment when considering asylum applications. The west motivates Eritreans to leave, he added. And many Ethiopians in Europe and Israel are registered as Eritreans. If someone asks where are you from, they cant differentiate.
The Eritrean government justifies national service as a necessary precaution in case of fresh conflict with neighbouring Ethiopia the countries remain in dispute after a 1998-2000 border war killed tens of thousands of troops. This followed three decades of conflict that resulted in Eritreas independence but left almost no family untouched by loss.
Yemane Ghebre Meskel, the information minister, insisted that there was still sabre-rattling from Ethiopia and a tense limbo of no war, no peace. If you talk about the issue of prolonged national service, that might be debatable, but what are the alternatives? These are not hypothetical issues we are talking about existential threats. He claimed migration happens everywhere and in Eritreas case there are push factors but I think the pull factors are much stronger, in particular America and Europes willingness to accept Eritreans. Were talking about several countries which for their own reasons wanted to grant asylum for people from the national service.
During an interview at the information ministry sitting on top of a hill along with the state broadcaster overlooking Asmara, Meskel rolled his eyes heavenward before answering each question. Its automatic to say, parliament is not there, no elections for 20 years, he said. It does not take into account the special circumstances that forced the government to abandon the project of nation building that had begun. The absence of formal opposition does not mean there is not debate within society.
There is a demonisation campaign focused on the government and the president. I know him. There is a huge different between how hes portrayed by the negative media and him as a person. They say dictator but dont talk about certain attitudes of his character. Sometimes you wonder if they are talking about the same country.
Meskel dismissed the recent UN human rights report, claiming it was based on interviews with Eritrean exiles who have an agenda against the country. He continued: The UN said the government doesnt allow people to meet. If there is a wedding here, what happens? I go to weddings, on buses, in taxis, nobody cares. People gather together and say whatever they want. I dont have anyone arrested for talking negatively about the government. I find it difficult to say this country is governed by fear and nobody wants to talk.
With many of the best and the brightest living abroad there is little sign of an uprising against one-time liberator Afwerki, and that suits the international community just fine. Eritreas location in the Horn of Africa, notably its proximity to Yemen across the Red Sea, makes it an important bulwark.
Christine Umutoni, the UNs resident humanitarian coordinator, said: Eritrea is in a very strategic position. It should be in everyones interests to have stability in this country for the sake of international trade. Half the population is Christian, half is Muslim. There is no sign of fundamentalism. Its an important ally. If things were to go wrong in Eritrea, it would affect the region.
For many here, however, the peace, stability and remarkably low crime rate are illusory. Russom observed dryly: Most Eritreans are suffering but it is in our culture to act as if we are living nicely. We like to pretend. If you go to bar, someone is pretending to live well, but if you go to their home you will see they are struggling. If you could ask 20 people how they are doing, only two will actually be living well. People like the president but, in their hearts, they do not like the president.Continue reading
A panel of reporters led by MSNBC’s Chris Matthews agreed Saturday that Sen. Bernie Sanders’ plan to use a tax on financial transactions to pay for tuition at public colleges is cheap, pie-in-the-sky pandering with little merit as public policy.
Their analysis did not mention the credible studies that project a financial transactions tax, aimed at discouraging speculation, would be a major source of revenue for the U.S. government. Nor did they note the many countries where such a tax has already been successfully implemented.
Instead, Matthews, MSNBC’s Alex Seitz-Wald and Reuters’ Luciana Lopez argued that Sanders’ plan and its appeal to voters grow out of a kind of childish naivete that fails to acknowledge tough realities.
Here is the full exchange:
Chris Matthews: Seriously, seriously about this. Bernie says he’s going to pay for the free tuitions at all the great state universities with something called a tax on Wall Street speculation. That sounds great. We’ll screw the bad guys.
But then I ask the people, ‘What do you mean by a tax on Wall Street speculation?’ They said, ‘Well, every time you buy or trade $100 worth of stock, you pay 50 cents or whatever,’ right? So all of a sudden, your 401(k), your mutual fund, everything your grandparents have invested in is now getting taxed as you go in the door. … That doesn’t sound like Wall Street speculation. It just sounds like taxing anybody that’s going into the equity markets. That sounds like a lot of taxing.
Alex Seitz-Wald: She [Hillary Clinton] is right on all these things if you dig down, but it’s the vegetables. She’s trying to sell broccoli and Bernie Sanders is selling ice cream. You’re gonna feel terrible the next day if you eat a lot of ice cream, but for the moment, it sounds pretty good.
Luciana Lopez: Saying to people ‘Wall Street speculation’ — everyone has different image of what that is. …
Matthews: Well, speculation is bad.
Lopez: Well, no one is like, ‘My 401(k) is speculation.’ In a way, it gets to be all things to all people, to use these words that people then get to kind of define.
Matthews: Here’s the irony of our time: Everybody hates people who make money off money — captains of the universe, billionaires making money off of other people’s money. Yet everybody who retires and begins to want to save, everyone wants better than the interest rate. And they want somebody who can do that for them.
To be clear, a disproportionate share of any taxes on securities trades would be paid by the super-rich. The top 0.1 percent of earners took in half of all capital gains in 2011.
The panel is right to note, however, that while Sanders frames his tax plan purely as an attack on Wall Street speculators, it would fall on smaller investors as well. But in describing the plan as a short-term buzz that voters would reject if they only understood it, the journalists are missing the sound reasons people are supporting a plan like Sanders’.
The Sanders campaign projects that “imposing a tax of a fraction of a percent” on financial transactions would raise $75 billion a year.
That may actually be on the conservative side. A 2009 report by the progressive Center for Economic and Policy Research found that a 0.5 percent tax on financial transactions would raise $220 billion annually.
Of course, part of the purpose of the tax would be to discourage speculation such as that practiced by Wall Street banks using computers capable of making high-frequency trades. But even if the tax reduced the volume of trades by half, it would still raise $110 billion a year, according to the 2009 paper.
The United Kingdom’s 0.5 percent tax on financial transactions has generated a more modest $4 billion a year, but it excludes the large number of derivatives traded in that country. At the same time, the tax has apparently not made the U.K. less attractive to financial firms: London was the financial capital of the world in 2015, according to one global index.
Then there is the small matter that Clinton herself has proposed a modest tax on high-frequency trading. It is far narrower than Sanders’ proposal. In fact, it is so narrow that many liberal economists and Wall Street reform advocates believe it would be easy for Wall Street to circumvent, doing little to actually diminish high-frequency trades.
That is nonetheless a far cry from Sanders serving up “ice cream” to Clinton’s “broccoli.”
One can also debate the tradeoffs of a financial transactions tax dedicated to paying for tuition at public colleges, as Sanders proposes. But there are many reasons why middle- and low-income Americans might consider it a good deal.
First, the picture that Matthews paints of a public that loves playing the stock market is likely an exaggeration.
Nearly one-third of workers do not even have access to retirement plans through their jobs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In total, nearly half of all workers do not to participate in employer-sponsored retirement plans.
Less than half of Americans own any stock at all, through a retirement plan or otherwise. And those who have a 401(k) or other kind of employer-sponsored retirement plan might not view it as such a great deal.
The rise of 401(k) plans in the past three decades has not left Americans with adequate savings for retirement. The net worth of those nearing retirement — aged 54 to 65 — in the middle quintile of the earnings spectrum declined significantly from 1989 to 2013.
Meanwhile, the increasing costs of a college education, even at the comparably cheaper state schools that Sanders would make free, have hit people’s wallets hard. Some two-thirds of graduates of public colleges graduated with student debt — $25,550 per graduate as of 2012.
Meet the millennials who are making a living from livestreaming
But for those who can command huge audiences, perhaps livestreaming will be the latest internet moneyspinner following the rise of blogging and vlogging as professions over the past decade. âLive broadcasting is becoming a digital … A regular …
Blogging The Boys (blog)
10 observations in the Cowboys heartbreaking loss to the Packers
Blogging The Boys (blog)
What a terrible way to end the weekend. For the second straight week, the Dallas Cowboys would take an 8+ point lead into halftime and squander it. This time it would come at the hands of their NFC nemesis, the Green Bay Packers. The offense again …
Earlier this year, Facebook announced it would allow publishers to include more ads in their Instant Articles the mobile web format that makes news articles load more quickly on Facebook, but have been called out by publishers whose ad-dependent businesses suffered as a result. In March, Facebook began testing ad units at the bottom of Instant Article pages in the related articles section. Today, that test is opening to all publishers on the network, says Facebook.
The test involves placing a native ad unit in Instant Articles that shows readers relevant ads from Facebooks own advertisers. According to Facebook, the initial test saw an incremental increase in revenue for participating publishers, but it didnt get into specific numbers.
The company now says its looking to get feedback from a wider set of publishers about this unit in order to iterate on the experience.
The companys Instant Articles Facebooks counterpoint to other technologies like Googles AMP or Apples News format are designed to make it easier to read publishers content while on the mobile web. All these technologies, at their core, are about stripping down articles to just what a reader is interested in the text and accompanying media, like photos without all the cruft publishers have piled on over the years, like ad units, autoplaying videos, tracking scripts and more.
However, publishers havent liked this shift to a cleaned-up mobile web, because all that extra stuff layered on their websites is what helps them pay their bills. They need advertisers, paying subscribers, event attendees and the like in order to grow their businesses.
Thats led Facebook to have to make several concessions to keep their Instant Articles snappy to load, while also catering to publishers need to actually make money.The company has steadily been tweaking the rules for Instant Articles in recent months allowing them to showmore ads;orrolling out new features, like call-to-action units in the articles that can promote email sign-ups or request Page Likes; or letting publisherspush free trialsand app downloads,among other things.
It also last month rolled out an SDK extension that would allow publishers to create articles for Google AMP and Apple News at the same time as they create Facebook Instant Articles.
But a number of high-profile publishers had enough, and have abandoned Facebooks format.In April,Forbes, Hearst, The New York Times and others, including The Guardian, backed out of Instant Articles. Meanwhile, other major media organizations like Bloomberg, The WSJ, ESPN, CBS News, NPR, Financial Times and VICE News have been holdouts, running little to no content in Facebooks format, its been reported.
Despite these setbacks, Facebook says today that adoption of Instant Articles is growing.
There are now more than 10,000 publishers worldwide using the format a figure thats up 25 percent over the last six months. A third of all clicks to articles on Facebook are now to Instant Articles, Facebook also notes. And, in aggregate, Instant Articles deliver 20 percent to 50 percent more traffic, as compared with the mobile web.
In addition, Facebook says its investments in things like thosecall-to-action units, new types of ads and changes to where ads can be placed have begun to pay off. Instant Articles now pays out more than $1 million per day to publishers via Facebook Audience Network. And, in the last six months, RPM (revenue per 1,000 page views) that publishers see from Facebook Audience Network in Instant Articles has increased by more than 50 percent, the company says.Continue reading