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This is not good news for cyclingnews

May 1, 2009
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This is a really bad review of cyclingnews from one of its big advertisers.

http://www.competitivecyclist.com/r...ew-and-improved-cyclingnews-and-more.295.html

Now I hate to be as aggressive as some people here about changes. Hey you do your thing. BUT, when you start to p*ss off your advertisers, well i start to get scared that i might lose MY cyclingnews...

I know a l little bit about this stuff, i actually work in digital advertising. If you start upsetting your readers, well that normally leads to a slow death, but if you upset your advertsiers, especially those who blog.. eeek.

Especially to say something like this, and to say it publicly -

At the end of the day, here's the most critical thing: In the first 6 months of 2009 our referred revenue from cyclingnews.com (i.e. purchases that occur when someone clicks through our ads there and buys something from Competitive Cyclist) has decreased by 40%. During the same period our velonews.com referred revenue has increased by 50%. Mind you, we always run the same ads simultaneously on these two sites, so it's not a function of the quality of our ads.
 
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cycling news will argue that that is a positive reason to go for a more modern design... advertising revenue was down..

oh..they basically say the new site is crap.. :(
 
Mar 18, 2009
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dimspace said:
oh..they basically say the new site is crap.. :(

I have to agree. The news especially are pretty hard to sift through now.

Especially when the most recent pieces don't go to the very top, but to a random place in the order.
 
Jun 22, 2009
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thanks for the link. i think this is the most damning part from it:

"Our conclusion based on the money trail is that the shenanigans in the Bike Radar era has driven massive traffic from cyclingnews right into the hands of velonews.com. This is terrible news for cyclingnews, and it suggests that some sort of change had to happen. That change, of course, is their site redesign. We'll give it 3 months. If we don't see a reversal of the revenue referral trends by the end of the summer then I think it'll be safe for all of us to agree: In the post-Gerard Knapp era, cyclingnews has freefallen from being the undisputed heavyweight champion of English-language cycling journalism to its new existence as an outlet for Journalism Lite. There are too many great online news sites now. Those who traffic in puffery will pay a heavy price."
 
Jun 18, 2009
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Could someone explain this?

I'm afraid I don't quite follow what this competitivecyclist writer is referring to...what, for example is meant by the "Bike Radar shenanigans", and how did these things cause readers to switch to Velonews before the CN redesign? I can understand how the redesign would cause people to switch (I've spent a ton more time on Velonews since the redesign myself), but I must have missed whatever was happening on CN before the redesign that would have resulted in a loss of traffic. Loss of reporters perhaps?
 
Jun 18, 2009
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Bikeradar shenanigans

Crikey said:
I'm afraid I don't quite follow what this competitivecyclist writer is referring to...what, for example is meant by the "Bike Radar shenanigans", and how did these things cause readers to switch to Velonews before the CN redesign? I can understand how the redesign would cause people to switch (I've spent a ton more time on Velonews since the redesign myself), but I must have missed whatever was happening on CN before the redesign that would have resulted in a loss of traffic. Loss of reporters perhaps?

It's when Cyclingnews started to seriously go downhill content-wise: all that fluff repetition of press releases as news, fawning to certain riders, and no serious examination of what was going on in cycling - either in respect of races themselves or the (ahem) preparation side of things. Also the shared content with bikeradar, especially in the press release technical content.

It started when Future took over from the previous owners and was exacerbated by the disgrace that is the new website. Cyclingnews used to be content before form. Now we have rubbish content presented in a rubbish way. I suspect that's what Competitive cyclist are whinging about.

I am surprised they didn't comment on all the purple though.
 
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well there are two imporant points..

revenue was down prior to the site changes, so they are not responsible.. You have to wonder though is the new site to drive advertising revenue, or to make it more streamlined and easier to update in an effort to save costs to allow for falling advertising revenue...

Personally i actually think advertising revenue will now plummet.. a few ads, people live with, and dont worry about, sometimes even click on them.. the amount of adds they have on here now has been such overkill a lot of people will be forced into removing them from the page..

and this...

More than any other purported news site, more "above the fold" real estate is reserved for non-news graphic crap than I've seen anywhere else. Ads crowd out the content. The grey-black rectangle with its scrolling photos and headlines screams "ignore me!" since what dominates is the pool of grey-black itself and dated photos. BIFF THE GREY-BLACK BOX! When I go to a news site I don't want artifice -- I want easily-located news content.

when the advertisers say the box must go.. the box must go.. :D
 
Jun 18, 2009
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Not just the box, of course. I clicked on the archive button to "go back" to have a look at the old design. It looks like a work of genius compared to what's on offer now. The black box is absurd because, well, it's mostly black, the headlines are too small to read easily, they roll too fast to read the entire headline, the miniscule picture on the left is entirely indiscernible, the headlines become dated and are redundant with headlines in at least two other places on the page, etc., etc...and that's just the black box. Everywhere you look the old design was clearly superior to the new. Sad, really, to see a well-thought out design get replaced by a very poor design...Is Future Publishing a subsidiary of General Motors or something?
 
Maybe the collective IQs of cycling fans has decreased. :) Velosnooze blows. It used to be great when it was published in an oversized newsprint format, but I have never been impressed with their website.

It takes a lot more clicks to get the same info as the old cyclingnews design. Does more pages viewed equate to more ads clicked?

Who is most likely to click on ads? Seasoned riders who already have a set of online sites they buy from or noobs just getting into the sport? Does a flashier (no pun intended) site attract more noobs and result in more ad clicks?

Maybe when people want to go to a site to buy something instead of going directly to the site, they should make it a point to click through an ad on cyclingnews.
 
Jul 4, 2009
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It's not 1999

I have a different perspective. I've worked as a journalist (and sometimes print/web editor) at several small news publications, starting when Internet sites were the "new" thing.

First, having an advertiser or two go ballistic over a format change is par for the course. I've experienced this numerous times with both paper and web products: on paper, with necessary reductions from broadsheet to various smaller sizes (usually driven by increasing ink or paper costs), and on the web due to changes in website-related technology and user preferences.

So while an irate advertiser -- especially a big one -- is never a good thing, it is rarely a solid reason to reverse a carefully reasoned course. For every angry advertiser (or reader), there are those who don't mind, or even approve of change. The art here is in understanding your readership and financial numbers and divining what moves will pay off in six months, or a year. Any move can kill, but standing still guarantees it.

In the end, it is up to the publisher to run the publication, not a merchant who has no training in the field and is only looking out for a singular interest.

The web, particularly, is an evolving idiom, and publications constantly scramble to find the right mix of eye candy, usability, and content. I've been reading cyclingnews.com for the last five years, and the foremost impressions I've carried were:

A) it was and incredible resource for features and race results, and B) it was as attractive and usable as an Xcel spreadsheet.

To say cyclingnews.com's format was stuck in the '90s is an understatement. To say that Velonews had a more marketable product is not.

Personally, I found the format change a bit of a shock at first, but within a day or two, I had adjusted. The race results, features, etc. are still there, just reorganized a bit. And the Flash-based headline format is used by about half the news sites in the world by now, I reckon. It's just not that bad!

Also, regarding the advertiser's claim that his revenues dropped precipitously (and apparently solely) due to the format change: I'm not buying it. His revenues might have dropped, but in the worst economy in 80 years, format is only one of many considerations.

First, what markets do the two pubs serve? Are they identical? What are the variables?

Second, I've spent 15 years hearing the "Competitor A gives me better results, better ad rates, better placement) etc., complaint from certain advertisers who want to play publications off each other. But having worked for both Competitor A and B (or having friends at both pubs), I'll know that assessment is highly subjective or even false.

Third, advertisers choose their own advertising. I don't know about this particular case, but I've seen countless advertisers insist on pursuing lousy ad campaigns (or continue using shopworn ones because "it worked in 2005") and then blame the publication when the money fails to roll in.

None of this is to say that the economics of journalism are changing for the better. Most news operations have been cut to the financial bone in recent years (I've seen far too much of this), and previously unthinkable options -- such as incorporating the bikeradar P.R. nonsense -- have become mainstream "content solutions." I don't like it either.

Just my two cents/Euros.
 

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