Looks like we’re over the hump. A whole new product cycle in media has begun. Welcome to the era of digital news.
In the 20 years since the Netscape public offering announced the arrival of the consumer Internet, hundreds of companies old and new, the New York Times and AOL too, have crashed and burned trying to force feed their particular version of online news on to an unreceptive market. None could figure it out, well except for a few select bloggers who found a niche, a sponsor and a way to keep the burn rate down – and the aggregators of course, a new breed of robber baron who conjured a whole new business by purloining just enough of the news output of others to matter and not get hung. But quite suddenly the economic and marketing conditions are in place to make genuine digital news a reality, news produced and distributed by companies that didn’t exist just five years ago.
The last time this happened was in the 1980s, when the advent of cable television provided the distribution platform for new brands like CNN, and Discovery, HBO and ESPN.
Just as the digital generation comes of age – or maybe because of it – the next generation of news and entertainment franchises is rising to serve them.
Nothing they are doing is secret. It’s complex, but it’s no secret. In fact, they’re so pleased with themselves they’re happy to tell you what they’re doing. They realize that sharing on social networks broadens distribution, so they develop content that people want to share. They understand the consumer’s vast appetite for media delivery on smartphones and tablets and so design for that, first. They deploy machine-learning technologies to lower production expense even as they customize their products for finer and finer audience segments. And they appreciate that streaming video is an essential weapon in the new, intensely competitive battle for share and time.
Their success is not based solely on a supranormal ability to write code. It is primarily based on their intuitive understanding of the new digital news consumer. Deep down in their bones they understand how to reach them, how to turn their heads and engage with them, and how to deliver them to advertisers.
Their publishing recipe is a blend of creative art and computer science.
This new generation of publishers is redefining the media marketplace forever. To anybody over 30, their brand names seem strangely lacking in gravitas, even a little weird. News publishers called Vox, Vice, Buzzfeed, Gawker, Quartz, Reddit, Upworthy, Medium. Advertising products called Trulia, Zillow and LinkedIn. But on the other hand, to anybody under 30, the musty names of newspapers seem even weirder: Gazette. Telegraph. Standard. Post. Herald. Mail. Chronicle. Tribune. Times. If you can get over the name thing, you’ll see that this is the best time to be in media since the era of cable.
That makes 2015 the year of reckoning for all legacy media. Some – maybe one or two – will rise to the digital challenge and leverage their content and brand assets into the new era. Most will falter. For newspapers, the die is cast. It’s already too late, the Internet had already blown up their news monopoly, they’re broke.They were done in by audience desertion to a horde of newly-accessible competitors, the consequential collapse in advertising price and above all else, they were done in by a culture impervious to change. This frontal attack on their traditional bailiwick is the last straw.
In just 10 slides and 2 minutes, we have chronicled what happened to newspapers in a new presentation available right here: pwinterco what happened to newspapers presentation (It’s in pdf format). Hope you enjoy it – and here’s to a happy, healthy and prosperous 2015.