I’ve been a believer for a long time that the magazine business is best-suited amongst the “old” media markets to embrace and extend the online media world successfully. They understand communities. They understand niche content. And they get targeted advertising. They intuitively understand some of the hardest things to get right.
But watching eWeek handle the recent IntelliTXT controversy (more here from Paul Conley and here from Jason Calacanis) reminds me why there are newcomers in every market nearly every day displacing the magazine incumbant in that space.
RollingStone is kicking itself while MySpace displaces everything they once were. It continues to pain ZiffDavis and IDG every day that CNet and Slashdot control more and more of their once-dominant market positions. Everyone who was working at Time Inc. while Yahoo! rose to power is embarrassed every time they check their email.
Instead of embracing the Internet, the magazine businesses, particularly niche publications, choose to hide under their old business models. Then each time a Digg or a BoingBoing or the next new media site screams across the network, the internal fingerpointing and backroom politics escalate. And while everyone plots the next move, key thought leaders inside the company head elsewhere for employment.
There was a collective ‘ouch’ when InfoWorld lost Jon Udell to Microsoft.
I’m surprised that the trade associations are only just now picking up on things like this and the damage they cause. Martha Spizziri of the ASPBE takes a first pass at what IntelliTXT means:
“…at best the IntelliTXT model is annoying–in the same way that even editorial links can be annoying when the text is vague. In both cases, you aren’t really sure what kind of information you’ll get if you click.”
The American Business Media, on the other hand, has chosen not to take a side. In fact, they’ve chosen eWeek as a Neal Award finalist instead. B2B media watchdog Paul Conley explains why that’s a bad idea:
“it’s beyond me why the screening judges at ABM would think that a site that embarrasses the entire world of B2B journalism should be considered a symbol of what is best in B2B journalism.”
And Bill Mickey at Folio faults eWeek for being desperate:
“I’ve written about this before, as has Conley, who this time suggests that pressures stemming from owner Willis Stein’s efforts to sell Ziff Davis have resulted in a revenue-at-all-costs Web site strategy.”
Its obvious to everyone that print is struggling. And the stories of a market in turmoil only get more critical when a leader like eWeek sells out its last asset…the words on its pages.
Look, relevant advertising is great. It works for everyone in the media ecosystem. But when credibility is the elephant in the room, you can’t disrespect your customers. It’s as if your own content is getting in the way of what you want from people.
Do you want my clicks or my attention? If you capture my click, you’ll have a dollar today. If you capture my attention, you’ll have a customer tomorrow.