Wednesday, 3 June 2009

More on the Evolution of the News Supplier Business Model

Monetization is the real issue when it comes to the future of the new supply business, and IDEO hasn't really addressed it in this Fast Company article: News Flash From the Future: What Will Journalism Look Like?

I suspect we're finally reaching the ‘maturing’/saturation point of blogging and Twitter, the place many pundits suggested we’d eventually get to back in 2003, where people finally tire of ‘free’ news and opinions and are willing to return to paying to have someone clever, experienced and trustworthy sort things out (research and edit) for us. 
I really don’t want to read 100 ‘tweets’ a day, 1,000 blog entries a week, check 6 social networking sites, nor do I want to get stuck in a cycle of reading only one tight, narrow-minded group of bloggers who are all inter-linked. I want to read the Economist, CNN, Newsweek, AdAge, Time and a local news provider to get a cross-section of different reporters’ views and I want those experts to filter the bloggers and feed me Seth Godin’s blog only when it is pertinent and relevant (and worthwhile).

In other words, contrary to this IDEO notion which is riding on the current popularity of what is largely a lot of experimenting with new technology and, as such, is not necessarily where things will net out in 2 or 10 years from now. Recent research demonstrates that the 35+ year old segment is already tiring of Facebook and walking away from it. You could argue that they're not the target, but they do communicate what people who value their limited time want. Just because 12-24 year olds spend all their time on something today, doesn't mean they will when they have jobs and two kids, nor because a bunch of geeks or fame-hunters gleefully tweet 100 times a day today does this mean the late adopters will do so tomorrow, especially after those early adopters have moved on to the next new thing.

One key to success for news suppliers would be for a service like Pay Pal to offer a ‘universal subscription’ service. I’ll pay a few cents for an article, but won’t pay $49/mo. for access to ONLY ONE publishers’ archives. If, instead, I can pay $129/mo and get access to EVERY news publishers’ archives on the internet, with the service sorting out payment distribution as iTunes does (perhaps with so many cents per X words and a Google Ad Word-like ‘quality algorithm’), I’d do it in a second! 
We ALREADY pay for news providers to filter and pay AP newswire for articles today with subscriptions, but I have to renew them constantly and half the time I’m not 100% interested in any given edition, so I’d like to NOT have to pay for it. A universal news subscription, aggregating what I now spend on a local Toronto newspaper, plus Wired, Marketing, AdAge, Fast Company, National Geographic, Newsweek, MIT Tech Review, Strategy+Business, Harvard Business Review, etc. and allowing me global access, now THAT’S a big idea!

If I'm paying a subscription fee (versus getting free access), I’ll complain if they push too many ads at me, but if they TRACK my behaviour -- and they’ll have to in order to pay the sites I visit -- then the ads I’ll see will be more addressable (relevant to me) and I might even enjoy the ad feeds!”

Just a thought.

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