Our friends at Search Engine Watch having been published a great article called, The Ongoing Struggle of Free vs. Fee, Part One and Two which discusses traditional media and whether it can survive. I strongly suggest your read both these parts, as there is a some good information. One of the keys I have taken out is that finding ways to monetize content will be key.
To my headline. What is happening is that traditional mediums are now forced to adjust to the new landscape? This is no different to when radio came on stream, then TV, then the Internet. The Internet will not replace any medium, it will however, be an opportunity for the traditional companies, if they choose to do it right.
I think the talk about newspapers is justified in the sense that they have the most to lose from the Internet. The reason however, is not that newspapers can’t adjust, just that newspapers are still run by very arrogant people. Specifically what I mean by this comment is this; prior to the Internet, newspapers owned their local markets. There was a high barrier of entry for competitors, they were the only mechanism that delivered every day, they contained more information than TV and radio and they were very inexpensive for consumers and actually presented fairly relevant advertising to those consumers. However, when the Internet came onto the scene, all of a sudden the local markets were not controlled by the newspapers anymore. If I wanted information I could get it every second of every day with more insights that what newspapers could provide. Then came the targeted ads, that maximized advertising revenues for advertisers and gave the consumers relevant advertising based on what they were looking at.
Newspapers can survive if they change their model. Newspapers have the distribution network already in place in their local markets, but the product may need to change. For example, what if newspapers allowed a person to customize their content that was delivered to them daily – similar to speciality channels on TV. What would this mean for a local businesses? Would you be more or less inclined to spend on targeted newspaper delivery? For example, take the top headings in newspapers, local news, national news, sports, entertainment. Why not expand those. Why not allow users to choose which channels they want delivered with the opportunity to add channels or remove channels. Sure it is going to require more work and yes margins may fall, but the 21st century is about choice. At the end of the day, most of your users will choose the exact same thing – this is what is happening online – everybody has the choice, but are all doing pretty much the same thing.
Remember, small businesses are not loyal to newspapers, tv or the Internet. For the small business owner it all comes down to who produces the best results. Just like the flock of advertisers to Google, that flock can go to newspapers just as quick.
Newspapers – stop doing what you have been doing, change your tactics and sing with Gloria Gaynor – I will survive.