In for a gram…in for a pound

I think Gram magazine is quite nice looking. But as a concept it is utter crap. It’s a lazy way to use other people’s content to make money out of advertising. In short it summarises blog posts and then links back to the blog but without asking permission to use content. It did send out emails which detailed that bloggers had to opt out if they didn’t want their content used (which I did through several email exchanges).

It is also a flawed concept as the reader has to have a smartphone and then download a barcode reader to be able to navigate to the blog posts featured. The same goes to visit advertisers’ sites. I doubt very much it drives much traffic to any blogs or advertisers’ sites.

Like I said the benefit, mostly financial (although at issue two I’d image most ads are freebies).

Confessions of a Food Nazi first blogged about this back in November and has just posted again about the publication. And Sarah from Sarah Cooks just posted her outrage at Gram’s content lifting.

I’d be interested to hear comments from any blogger or advertiser to find out how much traffic was driven by Gram.

Anyway, Gram continues to send out unsolicited circulars to bloggers. So I thought I’d lift the content:

In Confidence

Hello,

Recently there has been some feedback from a few bloggers concerned about GRAM, so I wanted to try to clarify our intentions and give our perspective on a few things, and try and work out some ways we can improve the magazine.

When we originated the idea of GRAM it was all about how to get an RSS feed offline. We saw it as a bridge between the offline and online worlds. We wanted the magazine to:

– Be interesting and liked by the general public
– Be a positive thing for bloggers
– Be of benefit to Melbourne’s hospitality industry at large
– Be free, easily accessible and independent

We know the content is light, simple and an easy read. That’s because we wanted the focus to be on the links rather than anything we have to say. We’re not pretending to be master writers, or master publishers or anything like that. We’re striving to provide a platform for interesting articles, without giving too much of the original article away, so that people have a reason to read on…

We’re a small, independent team, just trying to further broadcast unbiased opinions, for people who weren’t in the know about the various food blogs (and were accustomed to reading the same food review annuals year after year), giving them a little taste of blogger articles, to push them online. From the start our main concept was to be a link from print to the web. We thought it was a great idea, and still do, but understand some people may not agree, or like it. We wrongly assumed everyone would appreciate their content being linked through to.

Admittedly we’ve made a few mistakes along the way with executing the concept of GRAM, especially with communicating our intentions and how the magazine was going to work with some of the bloggers. For that we’re sincerely sorry. It was never our intention to upset or offend anyone, or step on anyone’s toes. All I can say is GRAM is a new concept, and without a precedent to work from mistakes are easier to make.
We are learning, changing and adapting things as we go along though, and hope not to make the same mistakes.

We know that in focusing on pleasing our readers by offering as many links to different blogs as possible in a single issue, we seem to have overlooked the perspectives of some of those who we considered to be onside with, the bloggers themselves. Like with any creative project, we knew from the start that we weren’t going to please everyone, but we especially didn’t want to upset, offend, or anger the bloggers. For that we sincerely apologise. We would never steal content or take part in any underhanded dealings – just the opposite. We clearly show the URL, Tag and author name next to each article. The spotlight’s always on the blogger. And while GRAM does have ads in it, that’s not why it’s being put together. Advertising just seemed like the best way to produce and distribute a free magazine.

In terms of traffic, we are new, and the click-through rates so far may not be coming in thick and fast, but I’m sure you can understand these will improve and grow with time…at least we can reasonably expect them to. Not to say that traffic is a trade-off – just a by-product of being in GRAM.

We want to be of benefit to the blogging community, and are looking at opening up discussions with those interested on how we can become a part of the blogger community, (something we’ve always intended, but probably should’ve stated from the beginning). Through initiatives like sponsorships of events (for example photographic exhibitions, tasting nights, or any other project that benefits the community at large).

Sorry for the group email, we just thought it was the best way to open up the discussion to everyone. We’re eager to hear individual thoughts and opinions on how we can improve what we’re trying to do, and have tried to contact as many people as possible. If you know someone that we’ve missed though, please let us know their details.

13 Comments

  1. Pingback: GRAM Magazine – a Good Thing « considerthesauce.net

  2. GAstronomy Girl, yes…boo…

    Michael, I don’t think we hate them for QR Codes bt their approach to “taking” content. Re the QR codes perhaps they are just ahead of their time which still means Gram is flawed.

    Fitzroyalty, nicely said.And having sold ads for a small magazine I launched six years ago, I bet it’s going to be tough to find revenue. I bet even Broadsheet finds it tough.

  3. I think for those of use who work in the media etc in our day jobs what is most frustrating about Gram is its amateurishness. They don’t understand copyright. They have alienated their pool of writers. They write terrible summaries of good writing. They need us but we don’t need them, and that to me suggests they will fail.

  4. On the topic of how many people will do it Ed. QR codes are becoming more and more prevalent, as time goes on, more people will be comfortable with the and more likely to scan them. Should we hate on people who use them now even though they are on the leading edge?

  5. Boo to Gram. Lazy and lazy.

  6. Celeste, I think a lot of people would have probably lost the email to their junk boxes. That’s often what happens to me. But asking to opt out is bad practice. It should be asking to opt in.

    AOF,I suspect it’s them that are naive.

    Injera, what I want to know is why anybody would want to take an RSS feed offline. Doesn’t it defeat the purpose of it?

    James, that’s interesting that ithas done that for you but I wonder for how many people it will do this.

  7. me to have another look at other posts rather than writing off a blog.

  8. For 2 cents. I’ve read about a half dozen posts by using the ms tag. Until I saw gram, I had no interest in these blogs or the opinions of the people writing them. I think that gram has saved me from from sifting through a bunch of boring posts and taken me straight to content I’m interested in. That is what I like about gram. It’s also conviced

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  10. “it was all about how to get an RSS feed offline”

    Yep. Right up to the point where you need an internet connection to read the blog posts. Although whether you’d want to after reading their perfunctory precis is quite another thing…

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  12. They just don’t get what it means to link/quote people “like bloggers do” and that’s part of the confusion they’ve created. Or am I being naive here? Oh probably I am.

  13. If they were really serious about not wanting to tread on people’s toes, they’d try to actually email people they lifted content off. A group email is lame, and worse yet, I don’t see one in my inbox.

    Not cool. As for traffic? Not a single hit.