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Archivo del Autor: Belen De Leon

Facebook reveals early results from its subscription-focused local news accelerator

It’s been more than a year since Facebook announced that it would be funding a Local News Subscriptions Accelerator. Now the company is sharing some of the ways in which program has led to new initiatives at different publishers.

The accelerator is administered by the Lenfest Institute for Journalism, and in an email, the institute’s director of operations Ken Herts said the program “brought together an important set of metro news organizations in a boot-camp format, to learn from each other and from other industries,” then provided grant funding so the organizations could launch new programs to experiment and increase digital subscriptions.

“The Lenfest Institute’s mission is to develop and support sustainable business models for local journalism,” Herts said. “We strongly believe that digital subscriptions are part of the solution.”

According to Facebook, the projects funded through the program have led to tens of thousands of new digital subscriptions, as well as hundreds of thousands of new email subscribers, resulting in an estimated $5 million in additional value across the 14 participating metro newspapers.

For example, the San Francisco Chronicle held an “ultra sale” in the winter of 2018, signing up more than 5,000 new subscribers, making it its best digital subscription initiative so far. At the same time, the Advance Local-owned site Syracuse.com increased its newsletter subscriptions by 30,000 (275%) as preparation for its subsequently launched digital subscription business.

Facebook also pointed at the Philadelphia Inquirer’s creation of “a cross-functional agile team from marketing, circulation and data/analytics,” and at the Seattle Times’ efforts to personalize the messages asking readers to subscribe, and to study pricing elasticity.

And there are some broader lessons across the accelerator’s publishers, namely: 1) The leading publishers are still seeing increasing gains in digital subscriptions, 2) there’s a lot of room for email growth (half the accelerator publishers saw gains of more than 50,000 new subscribers), 3) that growth is important since 5% and 10% of email subscribers will convert to paid subscribers, 4) building user loyalty is crucial for future paid subscriptions and 5) retention among existing subscribers is also key — which is why the accelerator reconvened this year to focus on retention.

I got a chance to discuss about these initial results with Facebook Local News Partnerships Lead Josh Mabry and Accelerator Program Manager for News Partnerships David Grant.

“We want to make it a place where a cohort learns together, but then we share those learnings, those lessons out to the industry [so that everyone] benefits] more broadly,” Mabry said.

When I told them I was encouraged that publications that aren’t, say, New York Times-level can still grow their subscription programs, Grant replied, “Can local news do it? The answer to that is yes.”

He also quoted an accelerator instructor who told participants, “In your region, you are going to be The New York Times … You need to have that level of sophistication, with excellent products and excellent marketing.”

Grant also acknowledged that the first thing most publishers ask is: Why is Facebook doing this? Is it just to drive more usage of Facebook products like Instant Articles? In fact, he estimated that 99% of the program has nothing to do with Facebook.

“It’s not about Facebook tools and services,” he said. “Really, the focus is on building the right type of community. We’re trying to solve problems; we’re not trying to adopt products.”


Source: TechCrunch

iPhone 11, 11R and 11 Max: The specs, features and prices we expect from Apple in September – CNET

With all the buzz about the 2020 iPhone, what exactly are we going to see this year?
Source: CNET

For the next month, the Impossible Whopper will be available at Burger Kings across the country

Starting in one week, the Impossible Foods plant-based Impossible Burger will be available at Burger King restaurants across the country.

The world’s second largest fast food chain is rolling out the Impossible Whopper nationwide at all of its 7,200 U.S. locations for the next month as it tests the potential demand for the meaty-tasting meatless patty.

Burger King first launched the Impossible Whopper at 59 restaurants in the St. Louis area on April Fool’s day. But the joke seems to be on the restaurant chain for not trying to make the nationwide rollout happen sooner.

Foot traffic to restaurants that sold the Impossible Whopper soared a whopping 18.5%, according to the market analysis firm, inMarket Insights. Over the same period, foot traffic to the company’s restaurants elsewhere in the U.S. declined 1.75%, according to the study, which analyzed location data of 50 million Comscore-verified users.

It’s been a busy week for Impossible Foods, which announced only yesterday that it had inked a partnership with a manufacturer to boost supplies of its heavily in-demand patties. The company also cleared the final regulatory hurdle it faced to bring its Impossible Burgers to grocery stores around the country. So just as Burger King wraps up its trial run, customers across the country will be able to find the patties on store shelves.

Burger King wasn’t the first chain to see the value in adding Impossible Burgers to the menu. Roughly a year ago, White Castle became the first major fast food chain to offer an Impossible Slider on its menu. The burgers can also be found at more upscale fast-casual restaurant chains like Bareburger, Applebee’s, Red Robin, and Five Napkin Burger joints.

While the other chains may have been first, the Burger King rollout is by far the largest.

“From the launch of our test in St. Louis, we knew that our guests really enjoyed the taste of the flame-grilled Impossible Whopper,� said Chris Finazzo, President, North America, Burger King Corporation, in a statement. “We’re now making the Impossible Whopper available for our guests across the country at an unbeatable price for a limited time only so visit one of our restaurants before they sell out.�

One day after the in-store launch, Burger King and DoorDash will offer an “Impossible Taste Test” where customers can order an Impossible Whopper and the original sandwich for $7. For orders of $10 or more, DoorDash will waive the delivery fee.

Suggested retail price for the Impossible Whopper is $5.59, which also puts the burger at a lower price point than many of the other fast food chains slinging Impossible products.

While the Impossible Whopper may be made entirely of plants, it’s not much healthier than eating a regular burger. The patties, made of water, soy protein, coconut oil, sunflower oil and leghemoglobin (that’s the company’s secret ingredient) aren’t designed to be healthier option than a burger — they’re just designed to be a more environmentally conscious replacement for beef.

Impossible Foods’ recent wins come as its chief rival, Beyond Meat, is raking in piles of cash as a publicly traded company and building up a sizable war chest to conduct research and development for new products.

Impossible Foods has raised nearly $700 million to date as a private company. Its backers include  Khosla Ventures,  Bill Gates, Google Ventures, Horizons Ventures, UBS, Viking Global Investors, Temasek, Sailing Capital and Open Philanthropy Project.


Source: TechCrunch

Ford's heavy-duty trucks are set to be even more capable in 2020 – Roadshow

Whether it’s the standard live power takeoff or the new 7.3-liter V8, these are some quality upgrades.
Source: CNET

TikTok-parent is getting into mobile search

China’s ByteDance, which owns popular video sharing app TikTok, is already working to enter the smartphone business and the music streaming space. It appears the world’s most valued startup also has ambitions about developing its own search engine. Kind of.

A company spokesperson told TechCrunch on Thursday that it has introduced a search function in ByteDance’s Toutiao news app.

“The function is in line with Toutiao’s mission of ‘information creates value.’ Users can try the function in the app and provide feedback and suggestions on the new function,â€� the spokesperson said.

The search function gleans information from both content on Toutiao as well as the entire world wide web, TechCrunch understands.

From the looks of it, ByteDance’s current search functionality is more alike WeChat’s in-app search function than local giant Baidu’s or Google’s offering.

On WeChat, when a person looks up a keyword, they see news articles about that topic, followed by mentions of it from their friends. This is followed by random articles about the subject. When a user clicks on any of these article or news links, WeChat serves them the page through its in-app browser, giving them no option to leave the walled-garden.

The idea is to change the way people think about — and use — a search engine altogether. And in China, where apps such as WeChat and TikTok have gained gigantic reach on mobile, it seems logical to add all new functionalities within those apps.

ByteDance’s interest in a search engine became public on Wednesday after it published a recruitment post on its WeChat account. The startup said its “search engine� is aimed at “hundreds of millions of mobile users in China.�

“We will build a universal search engine with a better user experience from 0 to 1. Only you don’t want to search, there is no [info] you can’t find, because we can search the whole network,â€� the company said in the post.

According to the description in the listing, ByteDance has already hired people from other search engines such as Google, Baidu, Bing, and 360.

An analysis of LinkedIn listings by TechCrunch found more than 100 people from Google, Microsoft, and Baidu, many of whom worked around search divisions at the previous companies, have joined ByteDance in recent quarters.

ByteDance following Tencent’s WeChat model to create its alternate search business may add more worries to Baidu, which currently holds more than 75% of the search engine market in China, according to third-party web service StatCounter Global Stat. Microsoft’s Bing is also operational in the country though its market share remains in the low-single digits. Google currently does not offer its search feature in China — though it has attempted to change that in recent months to no luck.


Source: TechCrunch

Finally, a Robot That Moves Kind of Like a Tongue

Octopus arms and elephant trunks and human tongues move in a fascinating way, which has now inspired a fascinating new kind of robot.
Source: Wired

You'll Get Your Equifax Money. It Just Might Take a While

Despite the FTC pushing people away from an Equifax cash payout, there’s a good chance you’ll get all $125. Eventually.
Source: Wired

Sex tech startups protest outside Facebook over banning of ads – CNET

Dame Products and Unbound Babes say advertising on social media has sexist double standards.
Source: CNET

Apple trails Samsung, Huawei in global smartphone market, says Strategy Analytics – CNET

The iPhone nabs 11% of total market share in the second quarter of 2019, according to the research firm. Samsung’s take was twice that.
Source: CNET

Jakarta's Doomed Sea Wall, Russia Takes Aim at 2020, and More News From Today

Catch up on the most important news from today in two minutes or less.
Source: Wired

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