Thinking Radically About New Media

Posted: March 2, 2010 in Uncategorized
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X|Media|Labs sure know how to put on a good show. No pointless banter at the start and a good variety of speakers across multidisciplinary fields.

Whilst the theme of the Media 2010 – ‘The New Media Decade’ was a bit passé (perhaps 6+ years late?), the content certainly demonstrated a high level of maturity and diversity.

Courtesy of X|Media|Lab Flickr stream

You can read the detailed transcript of the presentation here, but for the time poor here are the key points:

Content is abundantly available, consumers now dictate the popularity of content: Content’s no longer scarce. In fact, content is the new form of advertisement. The consumer’s role is now multidisciplinary: they create, critique and endorse content. Thus, media organizations must reassess and confront reality: they longer have complete control of how content is shared and diffused across the web.

Metadata is your biggest asset: customer knowledge is your starting point to bespoke and relevant experiences across different platforms, particularly for mobile. Mashups such as Everyblock are simply about re-organising and presenting freely available information in a way that explores the serendipity of content discovery. Content might be king, but the tenacity behind perfecting user experience and obsessing over ‘every pixel from metadata to picture quality,’ is what brings success.

You should charge, but you must create value first: New York Times’ Marc Frons and Schibsted’s Frederic Filloux clearly supported this view that traditional advertising models must be trashed and re-jigged if we want quality journalism to stick around. The difference between the Speakers’ approach was that Frons demonstrated this value with some great web based tools that NY Times has invested in, including  TimesPeople (online sharing) and Times Skimmer (emulation of a physical newspaper online), plus the iPad app of course!

Pepsi’s recent decision to ditch their 20 year loyal relationship with BBDO and replace their $142m advertising budget (2006) with a $20m Refresh Everything campaign is a true sign of changing times. So, logic has it that if businesses don’t modify budgets and areas of focus, they get left behind.

So what should businesses do?

Involve consumers early in the process. Identify your key influencers, the key channels to contact them on, educate them on your new product or service, and keep them happy. Include only those who can relate to your values and philosophies. The end result is positive word of mouth and better return for every dollar spent on collaborating early.

Organise your business so that you can respond to market changes quickly. New York Times now has journalists and developers operating on the same newsroom floor.  Companies like Fairfax have a full team of Designers dedicated to User experience and best practice interface design (they recently launched m. versions of their news sites). Once you’ve figured out what you need to do to yield more value, be sure that you have the right skills in your business to support this.

Don’t be scared with being radical. We’ve all heard the phrase, ‘to succeed you need to fail,’ it’s about failing a number of times. Radical innovation also means jumping on an opportunity that’s not even within your competitors’ radar – a leap of faith.  iPad might be unproven now but I’ve had a change of heart and can see that demand will eventually catch up to Apple’s ethos of being visionary with their products.

NY Time's iPad App (Courtesy of Marc Frons)

  1. David Olsen says:

    I’m not convinced the iPad is a radical device for the NY Times support, if you are a content creator and have the budget to support development for the device, it’s a worthwhile experiment and provides a new flagship product to underpin their website subscription model.

    That said, it is arguably a radical device to develop in the first place.. though Apple were always going to develop a tablet in preference to a low cost netbook that would cannibalise their margins on their Macbook line. In any case, only the most radical ideas win, but not all radical ideas are winners.

    I suggest reading The Deviants Advantage for a discussion on this idea:

    • schmediachick says:

      I had my doubts about iPad, whilst it seeks appeal to the device obsessed masses might be wishful, its purpose and timing of launch is single mindedly focused on driving traffic to its app store. Frons positioned it as radical development now, but yes it should be the norm in the many platforms that a news company needs to accommodate for.

      I’ve been looking for a book, thx for the link!

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