This is the final slice of the Calacanis keynote, where he concludes by showing off some of his ideas for online content sites to start effectively monetizing their audience’s attention. For example, he shows off a movie trailer that could run before users are allowed to start their Facebook session. He asks how many people [...] [...more]
This is the final slice of the Calacanis keynote, where he concludes by showing off some of his ideas for online content sites to start effectively monetizing their audience’s attention. For example, he shows off a movie trailer that could run before users are allowed to start their Facebook session.
He asks how many people in the audience would stop using Facebook or Twitter if they had to put up with ads before they used them. Although few people raised their hands in such a public setting, I tend to think that a lot of people would start to desert these services if they start to cram advertising down the audience’s throats.
Also – not sure if advertising is all that viable a business model to base your hopes on – with the economy in such shambles, businesses have cut back on advertising in ways that would have seemed impossible only a few years ago.
At the end, he returns to his attention-grabbing theme of “Just take the money! We can destroy traditional media once and for all!”
Once more, a great big shout-out to OMMA for a great conference, packed with ad & marketing people who, will deeply worried, are still trying to find a path to the future whereby the media can start functioning again. It may not look like it did in the past, but we’ve kinda known this day was coming.
Calacanis referred to this as “The Bridge.” He starts off with a little more digital triumphalism, and then talks about the real numbers behind the economic downturn, and the 20% chance of civil unrest, riots in the streets, cats&dogs living together, the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man, etc. etc. It’s quite canny of him to stick a [...] [...more]
Calacanis referred to this as “The Bridge.” He starts off with a little more digital triumphalism, and then talks about the real numbers behind the economic downturn, and the 20% chance of civil unrest, riots in the streets, cats&dogs living together, the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man, etc. etc.
It’s quite canny of him to stick a mood-changer like this in the middle of his presentation. A relentless parade of stats (allegedly) proving that digital media will win out over all outmoded forms of communication, and we will join hands and walk into the sunrise of a brave new day … would be sickening. So he threw this in here to address the fears of economic meltdown that were at the core of this conference (after all, the title was “Tools for Tackling the Downturn”).
In the early going, he can’t resist taking yet another swipe at “Old Media” saying that the audience cannot be measured – or that it can, but that the Nielsen stats are “bullshit.” Which there is a certain logic to – advertisers who buy display ads are charged as though every single reader of the newspaper is going to open to that page and look at the ad. Of course, we all know that they are not – that the ad rates are actually based on the “potential audience.”
And what Jason doesn’t really go into here is that there are some very sophisticated media analysts grinding numbers and coming up with some alternatives to the “Search Is God” theory he’s plugging.
I’ll post the video of that later – if I don’t decide to turn it into a larger story for a magazine or website – but basically, media buyers/planners are starting to get hip to the fact that search swoops in at the last second in the decision-making process of consumers, and takes all the credit for their buying choice. Meanwhile, if they had never known that there were, say, alternate iPhone headphones that actually sound good and don’t fall out of your ears – then they would not have been able to search for it.
My own prediction: in the next couple of years, we’re going to see content make a comeback.
That is, if the second part of Jason’s bit here doesn’t come to pass, and we’re all either fricasseed by angry mobs, or hiding out in the hills, living like the Gyro-Captain in “Road Warrior.”
We (i.e. Singleparentcity.com and Filmson.com - don't bother trying to find them - they both folded) tried to do this back in 1999, back in Web 1.0, and there were a lot of lessons that we learned that seem to have been lost in the mists of time.
If you are going to try to be in the business of selling information (or the way we couched it, "a fulfilling multimedia entertainment experience") online, the thing to remember is that things happen way, way faster than they do in the offline/print world. [...more]
If the future of news is that it will live as a web-only play, then the InDenver and Seattle PI sites, which are (to use the horticultural metaphor) scions of the original papers are perhaps visions of what the future could look like.
Good luck and Godspeed. Selling information on the web is a business fraught with all kinds of unanticipated complexities.
The InDenver site has gotten some good & enthusiastic replies from readers eager to get good quality local news information, and who are seemingly frustrated with their other local options. Unfortunately, InDenver appears to be struggling with its e-commerce functionality – multiple readers are writing in to report that their sessions are bombing out, that they’re frustrated, that the interface is broken, or unwieldy.
Welcome to my world, folks.
We (i.e. Singleparentcity.com and Filmson.com – don’t bother trying to find them – they both folded) tried to do this back in 1999, back in Web 1.0, and there were a lot of lessons that we learned that seem to have been lost in the mists of time.
If you are going to try to be in the business of selling information (or the way we couched it, “a fulfilling multimedia entertainment experience”) online, the thing to remember is that things happen way, way faster than they do in the offline/print world.
E-Commerce for Former Print Reporters
A user subscribing to a print edition of a newspaper will fill out a 3×5 card subscription form, or mail off a check in an envelope, and patiently wait a week or so for the paper to start showing up at the front door.
A web subscriber will get halfway through filling out the form – and then a question (how old are you? male or female? what’s your zip code?) will piss them off because it seems too intrusive, and they will click away.
Or it will come time to enter their credit card information, and the process will be onerous enough so that they start to have second thoughts about it, and they will be gone.
Back in the day, we lost 80% of our customers during the payment process. You absolutely HAVE to make this as smooth and quick and painless as possible, or they will start to think twice about it – and then they are GONE, BABY GONE.
Lingering in the ether, the Seattle P-I keeps trying.
Customer Service is More than Responding to Complaints
This isn’t just fixing broken links on the site, or making sure that your pages display the same across a wide range of browsers – although that is absolutely crucial as well.
No, you have to be really, really, REALLY responsive when your readers reach out to you. You have to pay attention to what they’re telling you through their clicks, through the time spent per page, through the amount of clickthru you’re seeing on your targeted ads. You have to pay attention to what they’re saying in the comment spaces, to the kinds of photos and videos they upload (just pray that they care enough to send you their material), to the way they forward your stories to their friends and family.
That is what customer service is on the web.
If you are going to try to make people pay for a service that you provide – if you are going to sell them something – then that thing damn well better be what they want. Or they will cease to buy it. And they will do this far, far faster than they would with a print product.
The good news is that if you do manage to forge a connection to your audience, that if you do manage to get them committed to reading and acting on the information that you give them – they will then fight like tigers to make sure that you survive.
Market Yourself Like Crazed Insurgents
You can’t just rely on the goodwill and lingering fondness of your former readership to sustain you. That may work in the short term (if it works at all), but you have to make an organized, concerted effort to reach out to your market and GIVE THEM A GOOD REASON TO BUY YOU.
Take a look at the viral/guerilla marketing campaigns that were used by Bakotopia; your strategy may need to be a bit different, since you seem to be reaching out to a slightly older, more affluent demographic, but the underlying thinking is the same.
1. Go to the physical locations where your (would-be) readers are. Concerts, county fairs, farmer’s markets, coffee shops, playgrounds, whatever.
2. Have a persistent object that you can give away that will remind your readers that you exist. It can be a cheap 1-sheet flyer stapled to a lamppost, like a punk band playing an underground club. A t-shirt, hat, keychain, whatever with your logo and URL on it.
3. Reach out to your readers on regular intervals with updates as to what your new content is via email, instant messaging, SMS, whatever.
4. Enlist your readers in the effort to recruit more subscribers. Give them some kind of prize – free subscription, or exclusive merch.
Yeah, I know. This sounds like the way that rock bands run their fan clubs. It is. It also works.
You gotta be shameless. It feels like you’re a carnival barker, and that is not entirely inaccurate. But if you are going to sell this thing you’ve created, you have to prepare yourself to get your hands dirty.
Christ, I hope you guys succeed.
Meanwhile, here’s the video of the final days of the Rocky Mountain News.
It is my hope that the recent trend of newspapers actually dropping their guards a bit and talking to each other (and who knows - maybe even cooperating a little) is going to increase. Not just because it's nice to see all the kids in the sandbox play nice, but because this looks like the only way the industry is going to come out the other side of this crisis. [...more]
The Big Scary Project that I’ve been yammering about for the last five months is finally live & open for business.
The way out of the maze just got a little easier (click for larger image).
The Audience Planbook was designed to guide newspaper execs through the process of transforming their familiar (but no longer safe) businesses into popular & profitable New Media information centers. Here’s what the front page looks like:
This Planbook is an answer to one of the most persistent and trenchant objections to all this “New Media Strategery” — that is, that previous case studies and industry analyses have been long on strategy, and short on tactics. There are hard drives bursting with essays, webinars and podcasts calling for “disintermediated information flows” and “leveraging Web 2.0 to enhance user experience,” but the practical means by which to transmute these philosophies into concrete policies & procedures has been lacking.
I’d like to publicly thank & brag about my writers:
Chapter 1: Stacy Lynch writes about how to assess your current situation to spot where opportunities exist – even in this down economy & print-hostile environment.
Chapter 2: Heather Schlegel (aka Heathervescent) shows how to construct User Personas to start focusing in on audience groups that you want to turn into readers/users/contributors/evangelists.
Chapter 3: Chris Willis takes on one of the toughest problems in media organizations: the change-resistant culture, and shows how to start the internal change that will then manifest itself as an external renaissance.
Chapter 4: Francis Pisani brings a breath of fresh air to the product launch process – his experience as an “Alpha Blogger” in France & Spain brought him into contact with tech teams that are doing spectacular things.
Chapter 5: Sean McDonnell uses his experience of working to build communities for the banking and financial sector to show off the newest viral marketing tools.
Chapter 6: Erik Johnson shows how to push, pull, coax and haul our audiences up the engagement ladder; because an engaged user is far more valuable than a drive-by browser.
Chapter 7: Janine Warner dissects the business and organizational structures that New Media companies are using to produce this kind of content.
Chapter 8: Kevin Featherly takes the results of all this labor, and shows how to make an informed decision to “hold ‘em or fold ‘em.”
I am tremendously proud of the work that they all have done. We are all trying to peer into cloudy crystal balls here, and they have uncovered some real gems.
To quote Michael Corleone: “Everytime I think I’m out – they draaaaag me back in!” I just got done with a Big Scary Article for the NAA about charging for online content. I’ve marinated myself in all sorts of arcane data about how to make money from online content, whether or not publishers are being [...] [...more]
To quote Michael Corleone: “Everytime I think I’m out – they draaaaag me back in!”
I just got done with a Big Scary Article for the NAA about charging for online content. I’ve marinated myself in all sorts of arcane data about how to make money from online content, whether or not publishers are being forced to charge for content or are doing it because they are angry and unwilling to make the fundamental changes to adapt to the New Media environment, etc. etc. Basically, a whole bunch of business theory that makes me sound like a Web 2.0 dweeb, spouting buzzphrases like “Freemium is a viable long-term marketing strategy, but a short-term disaster if you need to make crushing debt-service payments,” and “Big Media brands must leverage their local trust networks to sign up small advertisers.”
“As consumers and advertisers increasingly turn to digital media, we must create formats and programs that support and sustain the differentiating aspects of our businesses,” said Martin A. Nisenholtz, founding chairman of the OPA, and senior vice president, digital operations, The New York Times Company. “Agencies must be given the tools to build brands on the Web and publishers must provide the formats for their advertisers to thrive, while balancing the needs of their users.”
The proposed new advertising units are:
The Fixed Panel (recommended dimension is 336 wide x 860 tall), which looks naturally embedded into the page layout and scrolls to the top and bottom of the page as a user scrolls.
The XXL Box (recommended dimension is 468 wide x 648 tall), which has page-turn functionality with video capability.
The Pushdown (recommended dimension is 970 wide x 418 tall), which opens to display the advertisement and then rolls up to the top of the page.
I have mixed feelings towards these things. As a web publisher myself, I am in favor of anything that delivers real value to advertisers, since if advertisers get value, then they’re much likelier to direct fat stacks in the general direction of indie weasels like me.
However, as a web surfer, the idea that sites are going to have annoying “Fixed Panels” that follow me as I try to scroll through the page … well, have you ever gone to a MySpace page where the background is busy and annoying, and all the content scrolls across it, increasingly impossible to read? It’ll be like that. The Fixed Panel is going to judder and jerk as you use the scroll wheel, and if you’re a person who has multiple tabs open in your browser, well … hope you’ve upgraded your RAM and you have at least four cores going in your CPU to handle all the load.
The XXL Box is a bit more promising. If an ad is actually visually appealing, and it is delivering information about something that I’m interested in, then I would consider it to be part of the content of a page. If it has page-turn capability, and can also display a short video clip, well, that might be amusing.
Hard to ignore, I’ll give you that. But at the time, I was using Yahoo as my default email address. The ad slowed things down so much that I switched over to Gmail. This, despite the fact that I know that Google is scanning all my email messages and indexing everything I write, or that is written to me.
General interest sites, however ... well, let me put it this way. Check out the sode aisle in the supermarket next time you're there. Diet Coke, Diet Coke with Lime, Diet Coke with Splenda, Diet Vanilla Coke, Diet Black Cherry Coke, Coke Blak, Regular Coke, No-Caffeine Coke, Coke Zero, Diet Caffeine Free Coke, Vanilla Coke, Cherry Coke, Diet Coke with Vitamins.
Each of those products exists because there is a niche out there that wants to drink them. Why would Coke want to waste its ad dollars for health nuts that want a soda that has vitamins and that they can delude themselves into thinking that is "good for them" ... on a site that has an audience of cigar-smoking red-meat-eaters?
The advertisers have had to fragment their products. Those fragmented products have to be marketed just to the people who are going to buy them, or they are not viable. That means that the platforms that those products advertise on have to be similarly well-defined.
The root of the problems with mass media isn't that there isn't interest in the information - it's that the advertising money is shifting away to places where the audience is better defined & targetable. [...more]
This is going to have to be quick – I haven’t had any spare time to blog, since I’ve been finishing up on editing the Great Big Scary Project, and I have to churn out my intros to said project, along with sprucing up my multimedia examples for my trip to Kiev.
But – two items this week converged (yeah, there’s that word) to illustrate one of the powerful, emerging lessons about New Media. It’s one that I learned years ago, when I first rode a couple of dot-bombs all the way down into the crater.
Big site traffic numbers do not necessarily mean big money. Read More
OK, it's a given that journalists have something of a Messiah Complex. You have to have something else going on psychologically to get into this low-pay high-stress field. But this is really crossing the line. And making an unfortunate conflation between the newspaper industry and good journalism - yes, it gets done at newspapers, and there are some magnificent examples of this. But the industry is asphyxiating itself, and dumping wads of cash on it will not solve the underlying problems.
Government intervention here would create more problems than it would solve. [...more]
While the concept of a bailout for newspapers (and allegedly for good journalism) seems attractive at first blush, I fear that in practice, the billions in bailout funds would suffer the same fate as the billions bestowed upon the banking industry.
That is, they would be swiftly pocketed in the form of “well-earned bonuses,” and only a few crumbs would make it down to the level where the money would actually do any good. While I’m not in the “burn baby, burn” camp the way many other digital triumphalists have been (and there’s at least a faint whiff of that hereabouts), I think that dumping fat stacks on media conglomerates will not solve the underlying problems of the crumbling of business models.
Now then – a Manhattan Project (of sorts) to build solid business models to support quality journalism? That would = the hoary “teaching a man to fish” paradigm.
I know faith in The Invisible Hand is in short supply these days (and where it can be found, it’s usually being in the stocks in the town square, being pelted by posters on Angryjournalist.com), but the fact is that there is a demand for something to perform the function of information dissemination that newspapers do/have done. If the Drug Wars have taught us anything, it is that where there is a demand, and money is attached to that demand, there will correspondingly be a supply.
This is all growing out an essay on the op-ed page of the NY Times and chittering in the Twiterverse, as the nervous journalists see the vultures staring downward, and big guy in the hood with the scythe striding through the newsroom.
By endowing our most valued sources of news we would free them from the strictures of an obsolete business model and offer them a permanent place in society, like that of America’s colleges and universities. Endowments would transform newspapers into unshakable fixtures of American life, with greater stability and enhanced independence that would allow them to serve the public good more effectively.
Well, allow me to respond to that one.
Not to get all Reagan on you, but that is complete and utter madness. Newspapers are so important, so crucial to our lives, that it is the duty & obligation of the government to preserve them?
OK, it’s a given that journalists have something of a Messiah Complex. You have to have something else going on psychologically to get into this low-pay high-stress field. But this is really crossing the line. And making an unfortunate conflation between the newspaper industry and good journalism – yes, it gets done at newspapers, and there are some magnificent examples of this. But the industry is asphyxiating itself, and dumping wads of cash on it will not solve the underlying problems.
Government intervention here would create more problems than it would solve. Allison Fine is onto this issue:
So, the fundamental premise of the need to endow newspapers and preserve them at public expense is that false information exists on the Internet? Of course it does, as it does on TV, on the radio (should we also consider endowing Rush?) in magazines, and in many, many newspapers. Which media would the authors like to choose as being least likely to contain false information? And which medium do they think did the best job of bringing the lies and corruption of the Bush Administration to light — hint, don’t look at newspapers, Josh Micah Marshall and his Talking Points Memo website would be a much better bet.
So, the fundamental premise that only newspapers can hold government accountable is specious. But that isn’t my biggest issue with the article. It is the naive assumption from those outside of the nonprofit sphere that 1) nonprofit status is intended for companies that don’t have a viable business model, and 2) raising billions of dollars in endowment funds is doable, particularly in today’s economy.
If anything, the effect of billions spent on preserving the newspaper format as it is, without any changes, will mean that we’ll all be getting print products dumped on our doors that are increasingly ad-free. Yeah, there will be a number of advertisers who will still be there because the eyeballs are there. But the trends of readership of mass print products are not heading up (niche and community newspapers are another story).
Worst of all, the preservation of a business model that is clearly no longer functional will suck the oxygen out of the room for the products that should (and are, in some cases) being developed to do the job that newspapers have done. Artificially propping up newspapers in their current form will stifle the innovation in the marketplace, and long-term, only make the inevitable collapse worse.
We’re kinda seeing that take place in the real estate and credit markets right now. The government artificially propped up the economy for eight years with crazy spending and stupid low interest rates. Instead of hard work & ingenuity to produce real growth, it was Free Money Day Every Day, as real-estate speculation in areas like Scottsdale, Las Vegas, Miami & L.A. led to the “$30,000-a-year millionaire” who made $10,000 in arcane mortgage kickbacks every time he/she signed his/her name to a loan document. The results of that are the global economic meltdown we see occurring right now.
ESPN sees the writing on the wall. In their industry they need strong stories to promote sports and strong sports to drive interest to their stories. A fan that is underserved by his newspaper is less interested in following his team on ESPN. Additionally, there is big advertising money for ESPN if it can become the resource for local sports.
This is a long term proposition, however. Even the mighty ESPN cannot yet afford to hire 30 beat writers to cover each NBA team. Instead it is working towards its goal by teaming with independend bloggers in a win/win/win proposition. The bloggers have a chance at monetizing their efforts, ESPN can become the central resource it wants to become and fans can get the information they want as a new, viable local sports media business model starts to thrive.
Here’s another quick hit: I really love the playful spirit behind this ad – the way that it takes great design, which by its nature cannot be reduced to a set of integers and mathematic functions, and reconstructs the evolution of great forces in advertising and marketing into an arresting image. Great stuff. Maybe I’m [...] [...more]
Here’s another quick hit:
Al Gore divided by Bill Gates?Does that mean that the polar icecaps will now recede as slowly as a Vista boot-up? 'Cause that'd actually be pretty cool.
I really love the playful spirit behind this ad – the way that it takes great design, which by its nature cannot be reduced to a set of integers and mathematic functions, and reconstructs the evolution of great forces in advertising and marketing into an arresting image. Great stuff.
Maybe I’m loving this just because it’s so “meta” – an ad image that seeks to comment on, and explain forcefully & originally, what is best & most innovative about advertising design. The Big Scary Project I’m working on right now is kinda like this – it’s a journalistic project that seeks to impress other journalists with its depth & insight. Which is a high-wire act that borders on the reckless.
This is getting really, really close to the vision of the future that all the e-Ink dweebs have been yammering about for, oh, the last 40 years or so. The idea of an object that marries the (perceived) strengths of a newspaper with the electronic display have become something of an obsession for old-guard newspaper [...] [...more]
For now, check out this nifty little Kindle-a-like…
I particularly like how the display can now handle much better grayscale, and especially how you can use a stylus (finger?) to control the display, write your own notes, etc. The form factor of stuff welded to a hunk of plastic is obviously just a “placeholder,” so the ugly industrial look right now doesn’t bother me.
We’re still missing the part where we can roll the damn thing up and stick it in a backpack or back pocket … but, given the delicate liquid crystals in the display, that vision of what the display can/will be is most likely a mirage anyway. Also, I don’t think I’d recommend treating any of the rather toxic & corrosive battery technologies with such cavalier violence either.
And yeah, I know. Focusing in on a physical object that the news is delivered on is like a restaurant critic obsessing over the china pattern on the plate that the duck a l’orange is served on.
However. To extrapolate to the more trenchant issues in the newspaper industry – it’s more important to focus in on whether the duck is moldy, or the duck appears a day after you order it, or the other diners start pelting you with the green beans almondine while the waiter steals your wallet and screams in your ear about a real-estate opportunity… [Wow! I think I just waterboarded that metaphor! W00t! Yay me!]
While I love the idea of using one of these things to read the news, to have it in my pocket or carried around with my other junk, constantly updating me as to what’s going on … my fear is that newspapers & media companies will focus in on this as a possible magic solution to their problems. This isn’t because the people in charge are bad, or stupid, or any of the other calumnies flung their way by the increasingly smug digerati (and mea culpa, I have been guilty of that myself on occasion).
It’s because newspapers are run by corporations these days, and corporate guys look to concrete, hard solutions to problems that they can wrap their minds around. Problems with product distribution call for investment in shiny new trucks or routing equipment or big heavy steel cranes … things that you spend money on, that are built of metal and that have big engines in them that make the floor shake a little bit, and that make you feel like you spent your money on something substantial, something that has value.
In contrast, spending a buncha coin on a squishy, touchy-feely thing like “changing corporate culture,” or “re-imagining product possibilities,” or empowering entrepreneurial spirit” … well, a good example of this is the war in Iraq. Or the war on drugs.
We spend massive sums on technological, physical solutions to what is basically a mental & spiritual problem. We bomb the shit out of Fallujah, or build big radar dirigibles to patrol the border for cocaine smugglers, and wonder what it is that went wrong when the problem just morphs into some other face, and continues somewhere else, away from the heavy iron Death Machine we’ve constructed.
Not a good week in journalism. And this cover story was, unfortunately, quite prophetic for a lot of Time, Inc. staffers. Of interest, amidst the “can you braid this into a noose for me please?”-type news, is the announcement by CEO Ann Moore that Time Inc. is cutting staff as part of a reorganization plan: [...] [...more]
Not a good week in journalism. And this cover story was, unfortunately, quite prophetic for a lot of Time, Inc. staffers.
…effective tomorrow, we are going to implement a much more centralized management structure, organized into three business units that will group together titles that share similar audiences, advertisers, and the talents and skills of their staffs. The goal is to enable our company to move faster, go to market smarter, save significant costs, and employ our editorial resources more efficiently.
* News: the existing print and digital properties in the TIME group, the Fortune|Money group, and the Sports Illustrated group, as well as Life.com and GEE. John Squires, EVP Time Inc. will manage the News Business Unit. * Style and Entertainment: the existing print and digital properties in the PEOPLE group, InStyle, Entertainment Weekly, and Essence. I will act as the EVP for this group so the Style and Entertainment Business Unit will report to me. * Lifestyle: the existing print and digital properties of Real Simple, This Old House, All You, Southern Living, Cooking Light, Sunset, Health, Cottage Living, Coastal Living, and Southern Accents, along with MyRecipes.com and MyHomeIdeas.com. Sylvia Auton, EVP Time Inc. will manage the Lifestyle Business Unit, while also retaining responsibility for IPC Media.
Apparently, this is to take advantage of one of the other key areas of the reorg, which is to set loose the Ad Sales staff on selling ads across a range of related properties. Which, in theory, would make sense — but I’m not sure that any internal measures are going to change the dynamics hitting national mags. When the Big Three automakers teeter on the brink of bankruptcy, offering them easier access to your ad pages because you can now sell them space in a dozen mags, rather than just a couple, is not really a game-changer.
Moore goes on to tout recent collaboration across Time Inc. properties, such as when Sports Illustrated shared photos to the TIME.com website, or the magazines sharing content, such as a Time cover piece on the economy that was written by a Fortune staff writer.
Why does this feel like making a virtue out of a necessity? Of course the SI photogs are shipping their photos to the TIME sites. That’s because TIME can’t afford to send their own photogs to Beijing to cover the events. And the fact that TIME has to rely on a writer from another magazine to provide the necessary perspective on THE GIGANTIC STORY OF THE MOMENT is evidence of the fact that TIME is getting so thin on staff that they have to reach out to magazines that still have core competency in economic issues to try to make sense of the global meltdown. Once upon a TIME, such people already on hand, working in the newsroom on deep, insightful stories.
BTW – I’ve been noticing that TIME hardly even runs ads anymore. Again, I remember the good ol’ days, when the mag was so crammed with ads that it was hard sometimes to read the stories, because they had to jump across so many pages. I can’t remember the last time I saw a double-truck car, computer or tobacco ad in TIME.
Likewise, missing in all of this is any real description of where the money is going to come from. Go ahead, click over and read the memo. I can’t figure it out. There’s brave talk about how the company is still profitable and making money, doing good work, the website is growing, yada yada … but other than streamlining some internal business processes, I can’t quite make out where there’s a description of the new revenue streams or multimedia products that TIME is developing that will grow to offset the circulation and readership declines.
And philosophically, creating more silos in your business is not really a step forward when it comes to the web. The mere fact of yanking a bunch of content from one arbitrarily created designation and sticking it under a newer, fancier title … really doesn’t mean all that much to the page traffic that’s coming in from Google.
Now then – if Time, Inc. had announced that it was going to be creating new topic verticals (retirement investment planning, children’s health, mobile electronics) as part of a wide-ranging web initiative … where the best writers, photographers, artists, etc., from ALL OF TIME’S PROPERTIES, clustered to create content for specific interest niches that would appeal to readers and advertisers alike … and that they were doing this as part of a long-term transition from a world where the branding on an ink-on-paper cover actually meant something … rather than a world where what matters is the SEO results that drive audience traffic to your content … and that Time, Inc, then went on to create these fascinating cross-property conversations between their writers … you know, something around which you also empower social clustering and affinity groups to comment on, add to, and repurpose your content …
…then that would have really blown me out of my chair.