Newspapers and magazines are dying, but blogs and news sites and Twitter and Facebook aren't enough to fill the space they're leaving. At Say Media, we're building the next generation of digital media. I thought I'd take a diversion from my usual tech blogging to share my perspective on what we're doing, and why I'm so excited for it.
We know that traditional media -- newspapers and magazines and television and radio -- aren't keeping up with the wants and needs of an increasingly online and off-the-grid society. We know that those companies are seeing this trend, and they're trying to build a digital media strategy: Conde Nast, New York Times, Hulu. They're all taking content surrounded by ads, and transposing it almost exactly to the Internet. High-quality content providers are still not entirely great at taking advantage of the rich features that the Internet can offer, which in turn impacts readers and marketers.
The current best-in-class online media offering is just a notch above scanning a magazine and putting it online. In a way, it's sort of a meta skeumorphism.
The entire CPM concept for advertising is based on those traditional models. Articles are split over multiple pages to crank up ad views. By having been addicted to that approach for so long, mobile is presenting one hell of a problem, where small displays and limited bandwidth make it near-impossible (or at least, uneconomical) to shove a bunch of ads on a page. What worked for media several decades ago doesn't work online. We can do much more, and we can know much more, and we need to put that to use.
The future of digital media is, well, digitally authentic.
Imagine a publication that lives and breathes online, that takes advantage of all the capabilities an online world has to offer. Personalized dashboards, frequent updates, two-way communication, community features, integrated advertising, direct commerce opportunities. Imagine interactive features -- not just photos, not just video, but truly interactive features (like the New York Times's election prediction charts). Imagine a publication that had bonus features for subscribers. Imagine a publication that had enough real-time data behind it that it could show you what's popular, that it could inform its editors about hot material and encourage them to engage with the community. Imagine a website that didn't feel like it was overrun by advertising, where a clean design ties the entire publication together, rather than just making room for an ad on the side.
The industry is still trying to just make newspapers online, and tweeting links to articles. That's how they stop their ships from sinking and adapt to an online world. But they're not building their publications any differently from how they have in the past. Let's be true to the medium. We're building the next generation of media, combining the best parts of the past and the capabilities of the future.
(And yes, before you ask: nobody asked me to write this, nobody edited this before I posted this. I'm actually sincerely excited about this. I see it so clearly in my mind, so I thought I would write it out and share it with others.)