Blog Archives

The local media company of the future: Selling what, and selling how?

What does the local media company of the future look like?

At this point, the answer is pretty clear. There will be two kinds of media companies:

  • Those that continue to focus on their traditional media channels — newspaper, broadcast television channel, radio station(s) — and therefore shrink along with the advertising spending on those media.
  • Those that morph into local media houses that can connect any advertiser with any audience, through platforms, technologies and channels they own or don’t, to win dollars that are moving into digital advertising and marketing.

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After media disruption: ‘The Age of Knowing Everything’

Let’s look beyond the waves of media disruption we’re experiencing these days. Let’s try to imagine the end state, when media disruption gets done.

Wait … will it ever get done? Yes, I think so — at the time when virtually everyone on the planet, during every waking moment, has instant access at will to virtually the entire body of human knowledge. (Maybe in sleeping moments, too.) Read the rest of this entry

Media business model: Are you running the Scotch Tape store?

If you’re old enough to remember Saturday Night Live in its glory days, maybe you remember the hilarious sketches set in the Scotch Tape store at the old mall.

The bit was centered on, and got its laughs from, a ridiculously narrow business model centered on a single product, sold in a retail location that was no longer the cool place to be. (I’d love to link to a clip here, but I couldn’t find one. NBC must be closely guarding its copyright.)

Those sketches came to mind this week as I was trying to think of a metaphor for the newspaper business and its relentless concentration on news. News continues to be our industry’s central purpose and the heart of its business model for attracting audiences.

I laughed out loud when it occurred to me that we might be well on the way to becoming the Scotch Tape store, or “Scotch Boutique,” as they called it. But the idea is as painful as it is funny. Read the rest of this entry

The big picture: Mass media era was the blink of an eye

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In the midst of major change, we can only make the right moves if we properly understand what’s happening.

Right now, we in the mass media are wrestling with the most massive change we’ve ever seen. But, as in the parable of the blind men and the elephant, we’re only aware of the tiny part of this change that we touch every day. Read the rest of this entry

‘It’s the end of advertising as we’ve known it’

I was surprised to hear those words come out of my mouth recently, during a strategic discussion about where our company, Morris Communications, needs to be in three to five years.

I heard myself say, “We need to realize that we’re witnessing the end of advertising as we’ve known it. Not this year, not next year, but over a period of not very many years.” Read the rest of this entry

Time to disrupt the old media sales model

The local media industry is in desperate need of new business models. By now, after seven or eight years of brutal shrinkage in ad revenues — in the U.S., anyway — it’s painfully obvious.

And heaven knows we’ve been looking. We’ve tried a lot of things — new digital advertising and marketing products, sales department reorgs, newsroom reorgs, different content models, new niche products and websites, pay walls and meters, just to name a few. Some are even working, at least to some extent.

But here’s a model we haven’t tried: Calling on every possible local advertising/marketing customer at least once a year. Read the rest of this entry

50x current information = lots more disruption

If you’re involved in traditional media and your mind wasn’t boggled by last month’s IDC report, “The Digital Universe in 2020,” it must be that you didn’t see it.

So let’s take a look, and then let’s consider the implications.

Each year, IDC — a division of EMC — attempts to estimate the amount of digital data created, replicated and consumed that year, and to project the growth likely in the “digital universe” by the end of the decade. Read the rest of this entry

Five game-changers for the local media business model

It was an interesting assignment: Forecast the next three years’ revenues and cash flows based on current activities, then come up “game-changers” that could produce significantly better results.

At Morris Publishing Group — 12 daily newspapers and dozens of digital and non-daily properties — we came up with five that I’ll share here. Read the rest of this entry