Category — Media Future
BBC, that just launched a redesign for world service, provides at the top of its homepage a search box repeating what they have in other sites. It means that it is firstly offering a search experience. In fact, it is hiding the browse menu one click deeper in “explore”.
Audience mix search/browse has always been a topic when trying to find out how users approach to our websites and a conclusion that was typically argued was that less experience users tend to search while more experienced (loyal) users in our websites browse. But, it may change a lot case by case, site by site.
No matter what’s the user preference in search/browse, building up our user experience through search may guide us to display more relevant information for the user from the beginning reducing the importance (and the cost) of our editing teams to build up main and section homepages.
When we build user experience from search, we recognize that it’s not up to us deciding what we want them to read, and so, we –content providers- may try to give answers to users’ requests. Additionally, this experience is widely recognized and assumed, so we make our content easier to be reached.
By contrast to what happened in other media, in which search was left to a symbolic space, BBC shows an experience that is very easy to recognize, but, major strategic implications my come from a development towards search:
1. Search is a big market with a main player in which online media still did not compete. “Traditional” media can build up qualitatively different search experiences so they, at last, offer a different search product.
2. Media, learning from google experience on how to display contents, may perfectly find a different way to end up in a similar but qualitatively different product. Google tries to clean up but its algorithm its search results while all contents begin in a level playing field. Media could do the opposite, by qualifying contents, spread to a higher contents range while capitalizing (and taking care) of it’s know how and historical trust.
3. Opening up search in a media web may just be an strategic beginning for playing in this field, first with owned contents and gradually adding others..
It may seem sci-fi today, but it is quite likely to be the future of many media (content) enterprises.
March 24, 2009 1 Comment
Great post describing an initiative on mass customization applied to newspaper. I still remember how in my business school we studied mass-customization around Dell. Dell offered capabilities to final customers to set up their hardware requirements and they would get a product that would better fit them. But also, I remember this was the case for pizza delivery because you may choose the ingredients.
The initiative consists in:
You register online and select up to seven newspaper sections by checking a box. (…)
The participating newspapers deliver their product in PDF format to the Swiss Post, which then sends them to Syntops where the company’s custom software, Syntops GmbH, assembles individualized PDFs. The PDFs are printed and dropped off to Swiss Post by 7 a.m. for delivery to the home by 11 a.m. There also is a digital version of Personal News available online.
In terms of technology, it’s a kind of DM with more contents; it’s not as complex as it may appear if there is a good information management. Advantages of this system would be to make a more relevant newspaper and to have better possibilities for advertising targeting.
Being an interesting attempt of innovating in newspaper industry, we get to a kind of print on demand service. This is an already existing commodity service. Printing is not necessary for most contents, and, if you heavily use e-ink, like I do, printed books and papers become something even inconvenient. It is possible to syndicate your favourite sources online, to easily build up a .txt very light file and to carry it on your ereader and you don’t need to pay nor to get any advertisement.
I like the idea of the newspapers offering a customized newspaper, but, as information gathering literacy spreads, and audience mature, they will be more able to reach their sources without any third party involved in this process. In fact, I would prefer to make a comment on mass customization more than in this concrete initiative.
The key is still having powerful contents and values so that people chose us as a reliable source. The power to aggregate is in users’ hands. We may provide tools (like bloglines, netvibes or google reader) but what we have to give them is powerful contents.
Quality media will find in mass customization a huge opportunity. Being an opinion maker, a leader in a market will make a media chosen even by the people who may disagree with their statements. In fact, by supporting those statements or by opposition, with a clear standpoint, media can become catch-all (catch-all is a concept taken from Political Science). Catching all audiences widen reach and opens up a difficult entry barrier to competitors.
Catch-all media, like catch-all political parties, will tend to lead and aggregate people preferences. Mass customization is the opportunity for catch-all media to be not just in your traditional audience, but to get constantly into an incremental sector of audience that was always approaching your contents from the other side, and before, they never bought us in paper.
Credits: CC image by inju
January 23, 2009 Comments Off
What do you find when you look around at the supermarket? If you look carefully to product tags, you will find Unilever, L’ORÉAL, Procter&Gamble, and a bunch of corporations that virtually control everybrand in every product category in each market around the world. When it comes to media (even some people already worry on Media concentration as a potential problem for democracy, and that would be a topic for another post) we still find a group of more or less isolated smaller corporations at least, by language communities. New Information Systems and Technologies (not just Internet), open ways to integrate projects and cooperate profiting from economies of scale that would still help transforming media businesses and making it sustainable by reducing costs. This may be one of the reasons why, even being spanish, I insist in blogging in English. I really see no point on continuing with local, or regional (defining region as a linguistici community) in media business organizations. We can be local in news, but global in corporations, and, my view is that global multiplatform corporations would be necessary to have stronger media and a more independent journalism around the world.
This is just a brief note to advance my coming posts that will try to develop my point of view on how, as media businesses, we could improve our efficiency to serve a better (and cheaper) product to final customers through global integration:
(ii) Currently, cross border media integration is under-developed (exception made of new/pure players online)
(iii) Digital convergence has a logical evolution towards integration (softer or harder integration, depends). If not merging, Media should integrate in information systems and, still, traditional media could contribute creating standards that would put them in a situation of privilege.
January 12, 2009 Comments Off
Let’s have a look to what is going on with sports, because it is paralel to media business. Sports teams and players are content creators.
Sport, as a digital content, is mainly one shot. If you miss the final of a world cup and you know the result, your interest for the content is much lower. In the other hand, quality is important, but not critical, so, a decent streaming can perfectly provide you with the service of watching that game you want to see.
In the other hand, sports leagues have grown mainly on TV rights revenues. All others revenues are minor compared with the cash generated by selling content rights.
These two factors combined with the growing speed of Internet access easily provides us with a complex scenario for professional sports and media business exploiting them.
In the USA, the lack of agreement between cable operators and leagues resulted, occasionally on availability for the content online through piracy instead of being available through “legal” means. In fact, it was one of the first mistakes of music industry, it was not just that you would not like to pay for the content; it was mainly that you couldn’t find it. That pushes people to other ways of getting contents they want and once they get used to those alternatives paths, changing this dynamic gets more challenging.
The need for having live sports streaming available as soon as possible is increasingly urgent… but… it won’t stop other ways of getting those contents for free. It won’t be a solution by itself, it is already too late because people got used to enjoying contents for free.
Are we going to see footballers or NBA players, like musicians, campaigning against piracy? Probably not, but we will see audiences fragmented into many different sports and probably much less incredibly highly paid superstars. Will advertisings budgets grow to compensate previously pay per view models?
With journalism moving to citizen journalism + aggregation (according to most radical views), we may well see a similar process in professional sports players. In fact, if you follow the logic and apply to other professions, you may reach the conclusion that we tend to amateurism (to some extent, or, hyper specialization) and copy-pasting or further analyzing by others.
I got no objections to the new model of managing our intellectual property. On the contrary, I think it will speed up human kind knowledge and evolution, but, let’s assume it when making up our business plans for the future.
January 7, 2009 Comments Off
1. they may need some additional revenue streams
2. information storage costs are increasing
3. “Average revenue per user for some of the largest new media sites is measured in just pennies per month, not pounds.”
4. Concretely twitter and facebook did not make nearly any revenues yet.
5. More concentrated in growth, facebook cancelled a plan to allow employees selling shares
Social networking, for the moment, did not find a way to be sustainable. They are, for sure, working on building revenue streams to continue providing their service, and, if they do not find it soon, they will be in trouble.
January 6, 2009 1 Comment
Dave Chase leaves us his approach on declining local media businesses:
1 – Sales teams more oriented to account management than to new customers´acquisition.
2 – Lack of competence to reach advertisers that are not buying ad space. Lack of capacity to manage scalable sales strategies (tele-sales).
3 – Not having capacity to explain ROI measurements to potential advertisers.
4 – The atempt to sale many small ad placements instead of a few big placements.
5 – The fact that you sell advertising and the advertiser rarely see his own ads in the site.
creating scarcity by only allowing a certain number of advertisers in a particular section
This post entry is an interesting explanation. I agree in all points while I would put some arguments in a different way. His most powerful reason, and the one is making ad-space a kind of commodity that we sell by tons is that lack of scarcity. As traffic grows, ad-space is solds in tons of millions and we are losing a volume reference helping us much to understand what we are paying for (when buyin advertising).
Selling sections, or placements, by days, sections or sponsorhips elliminating rotating banners in most of our media, not only would create that sense of urgency and scarcity to appear but would only simplify our ad-selling process making it cheaper.
January 4, 2009 Comments Off
We know Google are great, and so, why to reinvent what they do? A search engine gets information for free because it’s offering a service: search. The same way they get information, you may get their service to offer again final information in a different way.
This seems to be a response to google supported by Time Warner and Jeff Bezos: kosmix. It’s a kind of Metha-aggregator that just gets the information from sources and converts it into its own information. And, what is the relevance of this?
We thought we were becoming service providers with outstanding product while taking the contents of the others, but then, someone else comes and gets your service and try to make it a commodity to finally also offering the contents of the others. Search engines converted content into commodities and new search engines are trying to convert older searching into a commodity? It seems to be a very feasible and reasonable answer. And… if search engines did not have problems getting other contents to build on their business, now they got no argument to claim someone else is using their service in order to offer another one… and they try to clean up results: no SEO influences, not such information floods in order to getting lost.
Building in existing aggregators and search engines to improve our search experience is a very reasonable next step that makes sense. At the same time, these new solutions will be improved by others getting into a (hopefully) never ending process of search improvement, but… what is more relevant: inverting again the situation and getting back search as a commodity solution, and (maybe) content will be again a king.
Kosmix is trying just to do that, and it will be a first mover into a trend: building on existing services to offer improved services.
As content structuring business get harder into improving search and fighting each other, content suppliers (media business) will have less capacity to influence their own positioning in such places. That will make, probably, that established brands and those who are at the root of the news, will get more relevance.
A fierce competition in media structuring is definitely good news for media users, and so, for media business. Welcome kosmix, and welcome to all those coming business that will use existing content structuring services to improve them.
January 2, 2009 Comments Off
A personal view on the future of social networks:
Social networks are not tools we use to communicate online with other people, but people connected around nodes. Then, facebook, tuenti, or linkedin are not social networks themselves but social networks enablers.
These enablers face big challenges:
1. When they are born, they need to open up in order to acquire new users and contents and to lower entry barriers to newbies.
2. Once they are big, they have the threat of being to opened. Users are the owners of their information and they may leave the platform or sindicate the content from another platform. Then, it would be necessary to lock-in users by closing the platform
3. opensocial and openid would convert platform into commodities that, in fact, do not add value further from hosting contents
Social networking platforms, in my opinion, are over-valued and their future sustainability is of a great difficulty and wild competition with lowering entry barriers to social sindication.
At the end of the day, they are also content business (although user-generated) and they face the challenges any other online media faces. Their content may be moved out and their network economies may not be enough to stop the development of neutral and external applications. The B plan would be closing their platforms, but that would get into a kind of autarchy of proprietary software in a growing opened software world.
Content aggregation tools (tools, no the social networks themselves) have, in my view, a clear path to become commodities and to face much more legal problems than business opportunities. There will be (probably) many business based on social networking, but, it may be the case that this business is not made by platforms themselves, or, at least, not by their platform development business unit if they had any.
December 15, 2008 Comments Off
Again talking on New York Times.
Their extra, added today in beta, is just a great step forward to becoming an agreggation axis. Combining the power of automatic and manual aggregation with an editorial line, from my point of view, is the future of Internet because we simply got too much information and the problem is not of volume but of quality information.
I am every day more convinced that New York Times is right in combining their brand with their future.
The key to contents online is not reading, watching, enjoying contents but searching. If media gets to the core of finding information, they will go back to being central in communications, and this is why this is not tactical but strategic.
This tool is just easy to use and it does not need installation. It offers a different navigation for a different user profile and if you prefer the traditional mode, you may just switch back to the “old” nytimes.com. This is offering more features to those who want more while keeping a “traditional experience” for those who prefer it.
I am really happy to see them clearly leading the way because I feel they are a mirror for many other media. Hopefully, they will speed all media so much and we should all be grateful to what they are doing.
When you are a brand like The New York Times, taking riks to innovate and progress is much more exposed to criticism. Great job again and hopefully they will continue offering ways to access not just “any” available content online, but any quality content. I think that difference is huge because our time is gold and we got no time to waste so much in finding and selecting sources all the time on our own.
I think today is going to be a new beginning. I know many people may think I am over-reacting to this, but I think this tool just confirmed what I think about The New York Times, they know what they are doing and they are being brave to innovate.
If you also think that aggregation tools used by humans can be key for the future of communication, then go to reading this post: new journalists for new information flows
December 4, 2008 Comments Off
Convergence can refer to previously separate technologies such as voice (and telephony features), data (and productivity applications) and video that now share resources and interact with each other, synergistically creating new efficiencies. (wikipedia)
A typical media group: press, radio, tv, magazines, etc. was producing content for particular “channels”.
Today, we convert audio into text, text into audio, images into animations… so we have different ways of doing the same: statements (thoughts) exchange. We now live in an multiplatform imperative and content is used by consumer in a variety of free ways. Traditional media, when they are online, are just “content” no matter they were before a radio, a tv or a newspaper.
I know journalists used to create content for a given channel and contents were always optimized for just one channel in the past. Today, if we were to optimize content for a given channel, that channel is pretty unclear.
We can perfectly say that content at the end of the day is something material. Digital content is made of numbers, of a binary code, although very complex, stored in some hostings and transmitted through cables or waves. Content is just compressed code that can be transmitted and reproduced in many different ways. It is the final user who decides how he prefers to access contents. Audio, video, text, images, finally contents are a flux of numbers that can be transmitted and read in many different ways.
Technological convergence brings media convergence and so, media groups coming froma legacy of separated channels need a holistic approach in order to maximize synergies with the new information systems. We have sustained previously in this blog that it is necessary to minimize content creation to maximize aggregation, organization, analysis, and many other derivated value creations around contents (either it is coming from inside or outside our organization). Separating a media group into business units just because in the past they used radio, tv, or press to spread their contents does not make sense any more. When coming digital, our approach have to unite powers and competences.
We are allowing content aggregators to aggregate (and profit from that aggregation) while we are not aggregating our own content (!!!). Of course, if we do not give our content that necessary aggregation, someone else will do (and that is blessing for a media group because that way we will be reachable at the end of the day).
Internet is about network economy, about critical mass, about being findable, approachable. In order to maximize the possibilities of being found and to completely exploit our competences, we have to keep a strategic union to transform our content into multiplatform useful resources. More than ever, with new techonologies our size will bring us strength.
For big media groups challenges will come from the necessary flexibility and brand differentiation, but this would be a different topic. Adding up content is adding value and retaining audiences around our networks. More than ever playing in a connected way will make us stronger.
November 30, 2008 Comments Off