My name is Dan Schaible. In past lives, I accrued 27 years working in newspapers for large media companies including Newhouse, Murdoch, Thompson, and Hearst. I worked in advertising, production, labor, and IT. I currently handle the relationships with content providers for the pre-eminent American brand in full-service media monitoring, planning, and measurement – BurrellesLuce. This position, with the experience of those past lives, allows me a broad view of the media industry and the challenges it faces.
The challenges are formidable and immediate. More importantly, however, I see tremendous opportunity.
Let me start by saying that content is not free. But let me also quickly emphasize that content must not be perceived as expensive either. It has to compete with free or at least the perception that content is free.
Information is, ultimately, created by people with mortgages to pay – even corporate titans have a roof expense; some are just larger than others.
People, individually and as part of an enterprise, want more and more of this information, and they want it in real-time. The information-consumer is not really concerned with the technology. They just want what they want, when they want it, where they want it, and how they want it. Most users of content are not going to go beyond their usual routines to get info. They are not really concerned with platforms or formats. They are all about convenience; their convenience. In general, they are impatient, conditioned as they are by the 30-second sound bite, the 140-character tweet, and of most importance, the compilation of “hextracts” (headline/extract) and associated links as search or news results, which, by the way, will continue to defy monetization. Oh, and they want this all for free.
I am convinced that, even in the digital world, there is still and there will continue to be a place for full publication and page formats. This falls mostly within the areas of individual use and first use. These formats have an advertising and/or subscription component to provide some support for the creators’ mortgage payment, as long as the payments have been modified.
The 30-second formats are now clearly the largest format in use for the delivery of content to the user. The users receiving information in this “bite” format represent both individual and enterprise, initial use and reuse and generally do not provide support from advertising – except when the consumer occasionally follows the link to the article. These 30-second formats are all about the article format standing alone. Focus on monetizing the article will provide the big win/win for the consumer and the provider. Did I mention this is my view we are talking about here?
So, pretty simple right? Just come up with a way to charge for the use of the article when somebody reads the whole article instead of the hextract. Do this regardless of whether that somebody is the first reader of the article or the recipient of it being passed along in an email. Make the charge a passive transaction and at a price the consumer considers fair (I can hear Clay Shirky from here on that statement).The technology to do just this is actually, for the most part, already in existence.
Then why hasn’t it been done?
In my next post, I will provide my own take on this.