Blog Archives

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

‘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

Desperately needed: More innovation on the audience side

Just how disrupted is the old newspaper business model — the model that’s centered on providing news to a geographic market?

A lot more disrupted than many people in the news media think.

The local media industry is scrambling to innovate around sales. This is seen, for example, in the race to create new digital sales teams and agencies selling digital marketing solutions to small and medium businesses. And the industry is innovating around costs by consolidating, outsourcing and otherwise whacking at the high costs of producing and distributing its products.

But I don’t see a lot of innovation happening around the content model that’s been the basis of the newspaper business for the last 100 — even 200 — years. Read the rest of this entry

Newspapers need to juice up the ad content, not just the news

The quality of newspaper content is getting some much-needed attention these days, as companies work to justify their print price increases and digital meters/paywalls. They realize they need to reverse the slide in amount and quality of content and talk plainly about it, so readers can see they ‘re serious about meeting their needs despite our shrinking ad revenues.

This strategy works, as several companies, including Morris Publishing Group, have shown. But from what I’m seeing, even the smartest companies are missing a huge part of the consumer value proposition: the advertising itself. Read the rest of this entry

Explore ‘adjacencies’ to discover new business models

Breaking out of the mindsets of traditional business models is one of the toughest challenges for any disrupted industry. And it’s one of the most important, because the old mindsets keep us from seeing new opportunities that are staring us in the face.

In the newspaper and magazine industries, we definitely need new ways to see opportunities. At last May’s World Congress of the International News Media Association, James T. McQuivey of Forrester Research presented a good one: Adjacencies.

We’re putting it to use in a practical process at Morris 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

Doubling down on digital at Morris — Part II

In Part I, I described how Morris Publishing Group came to be committed to creating a separate digital sales division in our markets. But at that point, we still had big questions. Exactly what would we sell, and how would we sell it?

To figure out the answers, Read the rest of this entry

Doubling down on digital at Morris — Part I

You’ve probably heard this before: If you want to have a shot at holding and gaining digital market share in your local market, you need a separate digital sales force.

But “separate” can have a wide range of meanings. Read the rest of this entry