The "Old Media" rebuttal to the noisy blogosphere

I've recently been hearing "Old Media" defending itself against the noisy blogosphere (Scott Karp of Atlantic Monthly, Simon Waldman of The Guardian, among others).  I think they're tired of hearing condescending chatter from people who don't know what it looks like inside today's media company.

You can't convince an Old Media company that readers don't value editorially vetted and professionally packaged content.  And it does no good to tell them that they have to get on the cluetrain.  They get it.  But the cluetrain's destination isn't Revenueville.  Hiring, firing and reorganizing cannot be done without a known outcome.  You can bet executives at the highest levels are wrestling with this, most of whom read the FT:

"Music companies, television and radio networks, newspapers and magazines are all facing upheaval as the internet changes how people receive information and entertainment."

But I think the failure to find successful revenue streams is a function of a failure to see what your users want from you.  Yes, they want your content, and they're happy you pay people to fact check.  But they really want to use your brand to socialize and discover things much more than they want to scan headlines on your home page.

The message that may be getting lost in the blogosphere noise is that Old Media is failing because of its dependence on old revenue models at the expense of serving their visitors.  Matt Blumberg has 2 very insightful posts on what the model should look like (via Fred Wilson):

Part 1: "The New Media deal is that we as American consumers are willing to share a certain amount of personal information in exchange for even better content, more personalized services, or even more targeted marketing."

Part 2: "The We Media Deal has two components to it:  (1) the value of the service to you increases in lock-step as you contribute more data to it, and (2) the more transparent the value exchange, the more willing you are to share your data."

Stop thinking about how to shove bigger ads onto your pages and ways to make people click on things.  Stop having meetings about how many articles should appear on your home page.  Stop wasting money on new content management systems and site redesigns.  

Where's the revenue?  Advertising.  Paid content and services.

The problem isn't the revenue models.  The problem is that your web site is becoming less and less compelling as more and more competitors are helping people do what they want to do on the Internet.  Advertising and paid content will work a lot better when your visitors are there because they want to be.

I don't think the critical blogosphere noise will stop until Old Media invests in the new user interaction models rather than continue its fight to preserve traditional advertising metrics.


Re: The "Old Media" rebuttal to the noisy blogosphere
by E Breece on Mon 16 Jan 2006 01:57 PM EST

I think this is spot on. "Old Media" has doomed itself by avoiding real innovation. Seriously considering new models for distribution wouldn't, as Scoot suggest, amount to "Communism" but rather create new revenue streams. "Old media" has to at some point make some concessions as does the blogosphere. Old Media is too unilateral. The "we write it; you buy it" model for publishing is on its last leg. However, blogs, wikis, bitpass (digital content distribution) and the like will die before they reach maturity if they don't find a way to monetize content in a way that makes sense and cents. So far no one has done this short of the itunes music store. Love your blog. I'll stay tuned.


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The "Old Media" rebuttal to the noisy blogosphere