When page views go mad, or drive you mad

So I was pointed to an interesting article about Monstermob, the evil geniuses who no doubt have a stock of white cats that they can stroke while going “Mwa-ha-ha-ha-haaaa” (they were the people behind the Crazy Frog ringtone, since you wonder Johnny-come-latelies in the ringtone market – thanks James [his page needs some weird plugin] in the comments).

Read through it, past the most brilliant response by the writer, Louise Armistead to the Monstermob chief exec:

“Give me any track from any artist and we’ll play it on this mobile right now,” he says in a low Lancashire drawl that makes him sound almost bored.

Sound of Da Police by KRS-One, please.

For the first time, Higginson stops and looks uneasy.

“Is that a popular band?” he says accusingly. I nod smugly. “Well, it’s not on our system now but it will be tomorrow.” (It wasn’t.)

Anyway, I’m just getting into the swing of it all when I reach the bottom of the page. “Page 1 of 5,” it says.

At which point I stop reading. It may be true that you lose 10% of your readers with every paragraph (and there’s the lovely fact that the editor from the Society of Newspaper Editors then used that stat to make the flawed deduction that nobody reads the 11th paragraph of a story; in fact if that stat holds you’ve lost 65%, not 100%), but when it comes to clicking through on newspaper pages and having to wait for all the associated guff to load (I block certain adservers on my home router because they just hold up page loads to an absurd degree), life becomes too short. The Guardian’s practice, of giving it all on a single page, makes so much more sense here. People come to read? Let them read. If you need to serve adverts, you might find that the people who read to the bottom are the ones who are really going to respond to adverts.

But cutting stories into twitching tiny pieces in the pursuit of artificially inflated “page view” statistics is actually a great way of losing readers. One of the other tech sites – Cnet? ZDNet? – does this too, and it earns my immediate ire whenever I discover it.

Still, I’m definitely going to try that KRS-One line on someone soon.

Update: Monstermob is now having a bad time of it since then.. Tch.


  1. That’s why I always use the “print” version of times pages, even for reading online.

  2. Charles, can we run a Monstermob fact check please? “They were the people behind the Crazy Frog ringtone…” That’s not how I remember it, and not what I’m reading from the first paragraph of that linked article (Disclosure – I didn’t get past page one either).

    Crazy Frog was originally called The Annoying Thing (might be its legal name) and was the creation of “some guy in Sweden,” if memory serves. It was licensed and then marketed to death across Europe and the rest of the world by Jamba (known in the UK as Jamster), a Berlin-based start-up headed by 3 brothers that was acquired by Verisign and now I thnk Fox Mobile.

    I worked there for 9 months, and left shortly after the Frog’s dbut. About 80% of all the Frog’s advertising appearances in the UK were booked by my then flatmate a 22 yr old Bulgarian business school graduate with a streak of Machiavellian marketing genius. Not that he ever saw a penny of the Frog’s success. (So maybe not such a genius afterall.)

    The Jamba operation is/was a wonder to behold: Several hundred razor sharp business school types from around the world, all working in a sort of call center environment, flogging the Frog and his pals (the Hippo, the Bird, and any number of music artists as mentioned in the article) to gormless global youth. Probably had the cultural impact of MTV 15 yrs ago. A media phenomenon to kick of the mobile age.

    That’s my 2 euro cents. Charles, thanks for your blog and your work for the Guardian (as read by us punters.)

  3. Hi charles,

    Could this (http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/view/id/129) be the next generation beyond the Berliner…?

  4. For the rest of the day I am going to be going “Woop woop thats the sounda da police, woop woop that the sounda da beats”. Thankfully in my head.