Monday, April 29, 2013

What Makes You Click On A News Post? (A Visual Guide)

As a blogger, I have to read...a lot! I have to sift through hundreds of news stories a day to form my thoughts and analysis on a subject matter. Over the years, with practice, I've become fairly good at skimming headlines and knowing when its worth my while to click and read the whole story. If you've read my blog posts, you will find that I write about tech trends. I care about over-arching tech trends in Internet, Mobile, Cloud, Ad Tech, Social, OS Development, etc. Even when I click through to read the entire story, I look for facts and the main take-away or strategy; the what and why the company did what it did. This helps me in figuring out the direction in which the tech trend is heading and what strategies players need to deploy in order to harness market potential in the foreseeable future.

I mostly use Business Insider's Silicon Alley Insider (SAI) to get the tech stories because they do a great job of producing, aggregating and distributing tech content online. I've put together a pictorial list of their headline feed to show you a visually appealing way of which headlines fit the bill and which ones are just 'nice to read' for me. Note that I am trying to figure out what the article is about  just by reading the headline and without clicking into it and reading the entire story. 

(Disclaimer: All headline news screenshots below are from Business Insider's SAI website).

Let's begin...

The top headline is sort of an eye catcher because it says that the best windows laptop is the MacBook Pro. Well, you can partition the hard drive in a MacBook and install windows on it, which is probably what the study found and led the Macbook to be the best Windows Laptop. No need to click on the headline...let's move on.

The bottom headline is self-explanatory and it doesn't offer me any information about tech trends. I know that Apple's WWDC is coming up. What I'd be interested in knowing is what products and services Apple talked about during the WWDC. We'll wait for that news story. Let's continue.

Here, the top headline is a teaser for SAI's subscription based report about location-based services. I can tell because the author is 'Business Insider' and not an individual writer. This report is going to be bustling with facts, trends and insights! The caveat is that you have to be a paid member of the service to read the whole report. I'd read this report thoroughly for all that it offers.

The second one is a reprint about Bitcoin, the digital cryto-currency making a lot of headlines the past few weeks. Most of the news about Bitcoin explains the concept or talks about the stellar price increases and drops over the last few months. But this headline seems to tell me something else. It tells me that Bitcoin is "...Becoming a Part of Your Web Browser." Now you have to take some of these headlines with a pinch of salt. To me, this post will be about some kind of tech standardization between the digital currency and web browsers. This may reveal some kind of a trend that I'd like to know about so I'll go ahead and click on it.

Again, the first post is some gossipy entertaining news about a tech celebrity, named Zuckerberg. Apparently he got famous by making Billions by founding a social site called Facebook. If I had time, I'd click on it and read about his Hawaiian adventure.

The second headline is simply a link to an article on another tech news site. Content producers sometimes share each other's stories on their news feed. Nonetheless this headline is about Twitter's app update. Good to know, but no need to read the whole thing. I'll see the update when I use the app.

If I have time to see a 2-minute streaming video just for kicks, go ahead, otherwise move on...there's no value add here.

The second post is a Quarterly Earnings report. It'll be full of financial facts (revenues, operating income, net income, margins, volumes, EPS, P/E & guidance). I'd click on this just to get my facts right and understand where the stock is going (trend). It's also about Amazon. I follow Amazon especially since they're into everything (e-commerce, Cloud, Mobile, OS, Hardware, Streaming, Content  Producing, etc, etc.). Recently news broke out that Amazon could be doing $500 million in ads a year, which can grow to a billion dollars this year. This spells trouble for Google. Lots of strategy related stuff. Anyways, in a nutshell, follow all news about trend setters.

I've taken the above 3 posts together because they're all stories about new hires and exits of movers and shakers at various tech-related  organizations. The first one talks about an exit and typically I wouldn't be interested in reading on, but it says, the VC is leaving to start something new. I want to know what the 'new thing' is because it'll give me an idea about trends in that space. VC's usually have a ton of ideas and a lot of market knowledge since they are evaluating business plans by the thousands. So if a VC is leaving to start something new, then she or he knows something that I want to know.

The second post is boring. It's not going to give me any insights. I don't really care about a board member leaving, unless he or she is a  big influencer. Yahoo's got a super-influential CEO last year and if Marissa Mayer is still around, then it doesn't matter if a board member leaves.

Next. Square is a super hot company because it operates in a super hot space, digital payments. There are several companies and several tech standards fighting for their place in the industry. There is too much going on in this space and even a bit of information related to digital payments may help me figure out where the pieces may fall. Anyways, this particular post may reveal professional background information about the the new hire, which may tell me what the company might be doing. New product development? Expansion plans? Change in strategy? In this case its a replacement for Keith Rabois.

In the above screen shot, the first post is a reprint about innovation in Ad Tech. The headline tells me how a new innovation tech (facial recognition) might shape the ad tech industry. This has 'trend' written all over it and I'd definitely click to read more. From what I've read before, I know that developers are working on a facial recognition software that will read the expression on your face and show you ads based on your mood, age, etc. This post also states that a facial recognition software has been developed. Al the more reason to get the details.

The second post is another link to a tech news site. It says that a possible competitor to Google Fiber is offering the same service as Google Fiber does, for half the price. Here, the headline tells me everything I want to know. I doubt that a state telephone company will be able to deploy gigabit internet infrastructure nation-wide and be a serious threat to Google. Lets move on.

 Let's make this the last one. So the first headline is a 'nice-to-know' story and the headline tells me enough. Executive compensation stories make for a nice 'OH WOW' read, but here it doesn't offer me any meaningful trends or insights.

The second post is so apt for this blog post I am writing because its exactly the kind of innovation I need. The post is about summarization technology, a topic I covered in my earlier blog post. You may have heard of Yahoo's acquisition of Summly, an app that uses summarization technology to summarize news articles! Hey exactly what I need, right??! This post talks about Google's acquisition of an app, Wavii, that does pretty much the same thing as Summly. Knowing Yahoo's acquisition and reading this headline tells me that Summarization is the way to go! I'd click on this for sure.

I can't wait for summarization technology to hit mainstream. It uses Artificial Intelligence and Natural Language Processing to summarize articles you want to read. There have been 3 notable acquisitions in the newsreader app category recently. The first being the acquisition of Pulse by Linkedin for $90 million. Pulse doesn't summarize news however, it aggregates news from different sources and presents it in a minimalistic style. The other two acquisitions are of Summly and Wavii. These acquisitions show a clear trend in what mobile customers are doing on their devices and how to gain their eye balls. This is the beginning of summarization. My prediction is that most online news content will use some kind of summarization tech to appeal to the reader-on-the-go. Hope you're listening, Henry Blodget.

Like I said, Business Insider is a super-duper online news producer and distributor. Kudos to Henry and team for building an awesome online media company. I've only used BI as an example and to illustrate how I try to decipher news content by reading the headlines only. We could just as much use other news producer's headlines to illustrate the same point. 

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