Online Media Boom; "Google Insights" Launches

Last Updated Aug 7, 2008 10:19 PM EDT

If anyone thought that streaming, downloading and viewing multimedia content had peaked, think again. Compete.com reports that of the top 20 fastest growing sites in July, 10 were sites primarily focused on serving up rich media.

There is no known ceiling for this particular trend since, according to Kryder's Law, magnetic disk storage capacity doubles every year. It is easy to envision a mobile device storing every movie and every episode of every TV show ever made, for example, within a decade or so, at an affordable price for the masses.

We are, literally, at the first, primitive stage of this particular content revolution.

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Google Insights for Search is out, in Beta, and it looks like it's going to be a terrific tool for those interested in the comparative metrics of web traffic. You can enter any keyword (including a company name) and get graphs showing how it has performed over time. You can sort this data by geography (country, state, sub-region) , industry, or by discrete time frames.

It reaches back to 2004, which in web years means an eternity of data is available, and is perhaps most useful comparing a site's performance within its specific niche, i.e., evaluating a sports term's relative value (say Brett Favre) within the universe of sports sites. The service does not reveal actual search numbers; rather Google analyzes a portion of worldwide searches from all its domains to compute how many searches have been done for the terms you've entered, relative to the total number of searches done on Google over that same time period. The results are displayed on a graph, plotted on a scale from 0 to 100; the totals are indicated next to bars by the search terms.

One especially useful aspect of this service is that as you move your cursor over the graph, individual peak dates and values become visible. It's therefore easy to get a quick snapshot of the performance of whatever term you are researching and how it has fared through the news cycles over time. My hunch is that advertisers and marketers will love this tool; I wish more content execs would get into this number-geek stuff, too, but that probably is not going to happen.

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Meanwhile, the University of Georgia's annual survey of journalism grads reported essentially no change from previous years' data -- 63.3 percent of grads with bachelor's degrees were employed and their median salary was $30,000. Those with master's degree earned $40,000.

Theses salary levels are not much help in repaying college loans, of course. And, traditional journalism companies are hardly stable institutions these days, as even the most casual reader of this blog can attest.

My advice to these young idealists?

Go Web, young (wo)man!
Go back to the top of this post. Media traffic is booming online, and there's a place for you creating the multimedia content that a global audience will enjoy.

p.s. You'll earn more than $30K very soon.

  • David Weir

    David Weir is a veteran journalist who has worked at Rolling Stone, California, Mother Jones, Business 2.0, SunDance, the Stanford Social Innovation Review, MyWire, 7x7, and the Center for Investigative Reporting, which he cofounded in 1977. He’s also been a content executive at KQED, Wired Digital, Salon.com, and Excite@Home. David has published hundreds of articles and three books,including "Raising Hell: How the Center for Investigative Reporting Gets Its Story," and has been teaching journalism for more than 20 years at U.C. Berkeley, San Francisco State University, and Stanford.