Monday, 5 July 2010

Times/SundayTimes and Rec Advertising

OK - the paywall went up this week which means we now have to pay to access the editorial content here. Now i am slightly conflicted in that i want to support innovation and new business models (OME, in its way, has completely re-written what a successful rec ad agency might look like) but.....
Our job is to plan and buy the best media for our clients and the redesign and re-launch of their sites have the following issues.
1. If you have to register (lets forget paying for time being) - many people won't bother - speaking personally i wouldn't bother unless there is information data and content that is not available elsewhere. Does the times site have this? i really don't know. Therefore traffic is and will be down - this is fact not conjecture. Therefore response is and will be down - fact not conjecture.
2. At same time - the times and Sunday Times have split sites. Now for last 10 years - users have been going to timesonline to access jobs and adverts for senior executives. Now - no rec con can advertise on Timesonline and no job above £40K salary. So the user goes to where the relevant jobs have been for 10 years - searches and gets zero ads returned. Result - the user goes elsewhere...
3. The damage here would be lessened if there was proper signposting of where users (indeed recruiters) should go next - instead its a maze and requires a lot of dead ends and clicks to try and find what you need. Not a shock to anyone but the digital user is a lazy person who wants instant gratification not to have to think about where should i go next?
4. If you are gong to make this sort of change - you had better have a big marketing budget to persuade people - i have yet to see this.

So all this is without looking further at damage of a paywall - my overall thought is - i love the Times/SundayTimes as a media. i really like the people we deal with but this appears to have been done without putting the recruitment advertiser or candidate anywhere near their thoughts. And the really silly thing is - i reckon you can solve some of the issues above in a day but will they do so before real damage is done??


gary hodes said...

Sounds breath-takingly stupid..... A critical launch like this without proper usability studies.... Rupert will not be impressed. And I am not surprised. It's incredible how many sites I visit where the developers have not watched how a novice user deals with it.

domsumners said...

yes gary - i think we can safely say there was zero usability study done for the candidate. I imagine that a lot of it was done for the editorial consumer without any logic that this would be the same person.

Ian Harvey said...

Hi Dom. Haven't spoken for a while but always read your stuff!

I read your comments on timesonline with a certain sense of deja vu. Our experiences with FT/exec-appointments were similar in terms of how online job advertising was viewed. Not surprisingly, the reasons are economic.

The days of generating £15m+ from press recruitment advertising are long gone. Most broadsheets were brought to develop or purchase online job sites because they felt they had to, rather than wanted to, to make the right noises to recruiters about being online, generating candidates from a wider range of media users etc. There was never really an in-built understanding of the online recruitment product; nor, at the time, the foresight to see how recruitment adverting could be made to increase its value through extension of the product to other FT online platforms. All FT saw, and probably the Times too, was many more jobs going online generating a fraction of the revenue of press advertising.

FT had a very healthy subscription/advertising balance (don't know about the Times) so when they designed it was with the reader and the big corporate/luxury brand advertisers spending 7-figure sums in mind. Not surprisingly, the online jobs section was way down the pecking order when it came to site redesign.

Maybe its the same at the Times.