We’ve made reference before to vendors who could feel the pinch as the media world changes. In response to Jay Small’s questions about AP’s strategy vis-a-vis Google News, Adrian Holovaty makes an interesting point:
What, really, is the point of the AP in the age of the Internet? My
(quite possibly incorrect) understanding is that it did two things for
1. Gave them filler content to put between ads when there wasn’t enough local copy.
Gave them access to coverage of out-of-market news, so that the local
newspaper could be a one-stop shop for all news — local, national and
international. So the paper in Smalltown, Nebraska, could have
front-page stories about the Pope.
Seems to me both of these
things are just not that valuable to news operations on the Web. Does
it make sense for a local news site to have national news coverage when
the Web sites for CNN, the NYT, et al, are a click away?
I just received a letter from Dick Cheney thanking me for my support of the Republican Party. He thoughtfully enclosed a very fancy and official Certificate of Appreciation acknowledging my personal and financial commitment to the principles of the Republican Party. I am apparently a Sustaining Member of the Republican National Committee.
The mystery here is that I KNOW that I’ve never given them a dime. I also KNOW that I’m currently registered as unaffiliated. I’m fairly sure, but not certain, that I’ve never been registered as a Republican. I certainly haven’t been in the last three years while I’ve been living in my current home.
A cautionary tale for those of us who think targeted marketing is the future of advertising. It’s really cool if you can send someone a time-sensitive special for the local churrascaria. If they’re a vegan? Not so much.
Whatever the NEA report says – "Maybe cellphones are taking the place
of the portable book," he suggests – Keillor has what some might
consider a dumbly optimistic view of the future of the classics vs. the
future of, say, David Letterman. But it’s a firmly held view.
"In the course of doing `A Prairie Home Companion’ we try to avoid
pop culture references," he says. "We don’t refer to things like
`American Idol’ – we wouldn’t do jokes about it because you can no
longer assume that the majority of people have seen this or know what
you’re talking about. The entire world of popular entertainment has
become so fragmented that there are no longer uniting figures."
For example, despite Britney Spears’ status as a recognizable
celebrity, he says, few people would recognize her music as they still
recognize Frank Sinatra’s.
Keillor touches on the cultural shift that I think is being enabled by the enabling of the Long Tail: There are precious few "common experiences" for broad, national media to deliver. There’s no Ed Sullivan show.
Check that– there are thousands of Ed Sullivan shows, all with different lineups. You can’t count on anyone knowing all the songs in the top ten anymore. So, how to unify through common experience? Go local.
… But I think that American newspapers have taken a very serious
wrong turn, and that aside from a few newspapers the quality of the
product is in decline, especially for the reader, and I think that
newspapers have forgotten that their readers are readers and love
writing – writing is what people want. They don’t want a sort of
concept of journalism; they want writers. And writers are always
"This is what people turn to newspapers for. They don’t turn to
newspapers for advice and for personal service and for sort of glossy
pieces about lifestyle and home decor and cooking and how to bring up
your children. They’re really looking to newspapers for the same thing
that people looked to newspapers for back before television –
television didn’t change anything and USA Today didn’t really change
I suspect there may be some context missing from Keillor’s quote here, but here’s my take: TV and USA Today didn’t change the need that newspapers filled. Newspapers, however, were born and bred in the world of dominant broad media, and adapted unnecessarily. "Hmm. USA Today is popular. TV talk shows are popular. We have to be like them."
But in the Long Tail aughties, you don’t. Technology enables you to serve readers in the same way you did back in the day. Sure, you may not be serving a certain segment, but that’s OK. Your former mass is now a niche. And they’re hungry for you to come back. I’ve seen the numbers.
I’ve been saying for some time that while there’s a sea change in content and distribution, the real mind-blowers are coming in terms of changes to traditional advertising models.
Exhibit: "Our ratings, ourselves" from todays NYT Magazine. Ostensibly about changes in Nielsen measurements, but touches on the core issues of precision in advertising. Some key excerpts, emphasis mine:
”Television and media,” Luff said over the noise of five sets tuned
to five different channels, ”will change more in the next 3 or 5 years
than it’s changed in the past 50.”…
I’ll buy that.
Finding out whether ”C.S.I.” beats ”Desperate Housewives” is just
the beginning. Change the way you count, for instance, and you can
change where the advertising dollars go, which in turn determines what
shows are made and what shows then are renewed. Change the way you
count, and potentially you change the comparative value of entire
genres (news versus sports, dramas versus comedies) as well as entire
demographic segments (young versus old, men versus women, Hispanic
versus black). Change the way you count, and you might revalue the
worth of sitcom stars, news anchors and — when a single ratings point
can mean millions of dollars — the revenue of local affiliates and
networks alike. Counting differently can even alter the economics of
entire industries, should advertisers (thanks to the P.P.M.) discover
that radio or the Web is a better way to get people to know their brand
or buy their products or even vote for their political candidates.
Change the way you measure America’s culture consumption, in other
words, and you change America’s culture business. And maybe even the
And change what you count, like say reader purchases instead of readership or paid circulation, and then you’ve really mixed things up.
Some P.P.M. tests in Philadelphia have already indicated that wearers
tune into twice as many radio stations on a typical day as they ever
note in their diaries.
So perhaps the Long Tail phenomeon is less new than it seems — we just haven’t been able to measure it.
There is a dream within the counting industry that has been around for
decades, called single-source measurement, but it has never been
successfully realized. Recently, thanks to the P.P.M., this goal has
been resurrected under the name Project Apollo, which is a joint effort
between Arbitron and VNU (Nielsen’s parent company). ”Apollo is
basically something that’s been the holy grail of measurement since
people were drawing woolly mammoths on the side of caves,” David
Verklin said. It’s a closed-loop system that will measure the media
people absorb — and then what they buy.
To this end, Apollo will track 70,000 people across the country
who wear the P.P.M. all day. But not for the sake of ratings. The
advertisements and messages these 70,000 people see, hear, read,
encounter will be matched to the purchases they make…
At the moment, representatives of Arbitron and VNU are making
presentations around the country to encourage big companies to sign up
for the service, which should be available sometime next year. The
price is high (up to $1 million per company), and many businesses are
reluctant to invest in an untested product. So Arbitron and VNU are
trying to stress the practical appeal: Apollo should allow companies to
understand which advertisements get consumers to buy their products,
but could also offer insights into the connection between their
tactical approach to advertising and the urge to buy…
Um, wow. Two kneejerk reactions:
- Media outlets would be smart to put a pay-for-performance mechanism in place before a scheme like Apollo takes hold. The last thing you want is an outside service busting up all your voodoo ad space schtick. Better to bring it to market on your own terms.
- What about smaller businesses who can’t afford $1 million in fees? Does this widen the Wal-Mart’s advantage over small retailers?
The market is demanding more precision. (Note that I said precision, not perfection.) Precision may well be the divide that separates the haves from the have-nots in the coming decade.
At least that’s our bet.
- BBDO exec: Mobiles to replace TV as prime ad medium. Yet one of the industry’s pioneers urges caustion.
- I’m joining the cool kids– I finally got a Skype account and it seems to work great. Jonesing to test it some more, so "Skype me" at: mikeorren. If I like it over the next few weeks, we may use it as our interim office phone system.
- Mary Schmich: But blogs won’t save newspapers. If anything, they’re
just another wrecking ball swinging at the crumbling monolith,
something that cuts into the time people have to read newspaper columns
and classic "Peanuts."
- Fred Wilson on Craigslist and citizen journalism. Simon Waldman wonders if a Craig model isn’t too fast-and-loose.
- Bob Garfield: An impending period of transitional chaos. Jarvis has some excerpts of the accompanying AdAge article.
- I have seven remaindered links for great Kathy Sierra posts. If you have, have had, or hope to have customers — add her to your reading list.
- Tim Porter: Circulation falling; citizen journos rising.
- For those who don’t yet get how open-source, immediate and interactive the world is getting: Marvel at this hybrid of Craigslist and Google Maps.
Fun article in this week’s New Yorker about the ongoing spat between the News and the Post. The catalyst was an error in the News’ reader sweepstakes:
A plaintiff’s lawyer, Steven Gildin, addressed the crowd as his
partners handed out business cards. “How can a company that publishes
information make mistakes?” he said. (The Post,
the following morning, misspelled Gildin’s name.) Then City Councilman
Charles Barron called on everyone to boycott the Sunday News. The crowd began marching and shouting, “Boycott the Daily News!,” which turned to “No pay, no readers!” and, eventually, simply “We want money!”
Paying your readers? A revolutionary concept.
There’s a hodgepodge post on Jay Rosen’s blog that contains a nice start on a succinct definition for Journalism 2.0:
In Journalism 2.0 (the way I explain it to myself) the People Formerly
Known as the Audience, safely considered "consumers" during one era,
are more involved in production. Interactivity makes daily journalism
into a better, faster learning machine, which means it can improve its
accuracy many times over. And in the 2.0 era new ways to pay for good
work emerge from a variety of directions– the media industry is only
one, and not the most likely solution.
He touches on an idea that I’m beginning to see flourish amongst those thinking about the future: The "former audience" has to become a part of the conversation, but someone still needs to facilitate that conversation, to provide the salon and all its furnishings.
As Dan Gillmor says:
The people we’ve called the audience play a key role, in several
ways. As consumers (I hate the word) of news they have to make some
choices. I believe they will pay for quality, to start with.
But young readers have changed media. We in the journalism sphere need
to innovate on new forms and delivery mechanisms as well as the
We also need, as I’ve said again and again, to involve the audience
in the process. This is crucial. And I want to do it in a way that
gives us all a stake in the outcome.
I don’t know what it’s going to look like in the end. I have some
ideas. But I’m in the process of bringing together some smart people
I’ve met in these travels, from the new and old worlds. They’re
passionate about their communities, the world and journalism. They know
that journalism (real journalism) plays too big a role in our checks
and balances to go quietly into the night.
This will become a combination of the old and new. I know that I (or
anyone) can’t figure it out alone.
Paul Bass sent me a good synopsis of various citizens/hyperlocal projects. The list at The Media Center is also comprehensive, but this one (in the continuation) provides some detail on the varying business and content models for newcomers to the whole concept.
UPDATE: Ken Sands also has an overview and is impatient with the MSM’s adoption rate.