The king is dead, long live the (content) king!
With thousands of media professionals losing their jobs worldwide (another 1900 announced last month by Fairfax, Australia) and the big dailies floundering to keep disgruntled shareholders quiet, how can this possibly be an exciting time for the newspaper and magazine industry?
Even Murdoch, old-school old newspaper boy, is about to castrate News Ltd in order to separate the flailing news arm of the business from the ever profitable entertainment side of the business. The rivers of gold are evaporating, why would anyone start a newspaper or magazine today? And how can the smaller independent publishers today possibly expect to be around next year if the big boys are sinking?
Well, they won’t all be around. But the quick and nimble independents today will surely rule the mediascape tomorrow. Access has exploded for readers, now flooded with avenues for information and entertainment. This in turn means opportunities for publishers who understand the trends and are ready to harness the technologies to build models that deliver.
The newspaper, radio and TV trinity saw us spellbound and dumbed for a few generations, and the owners of these media enjoyed lifestyles beyond even those lottery advertisements. But that’s over and the tide has turned.
Interestingly, two other significant trends on the way further strengthen the market position of the publisher:
1. Amazon is becoming a serious competitor to Google, given 20% of all online activity involves product purchase, and that’s where search money is. Amazon manages this with a search/purchase, whereas Google presents the buyer with broader information and many links, requiring the users to filter until they find themselves at a product’s checkout page.
Publishers bring buyers and sellers together via advertising, business directories, classifieds, real estate pages and more.
2. Google just flattened traditional SEO (Search Engine Optimization) with its Penguin release. Gone are the days of backlinks, keyword density and bold text. Google wants quality content and if a business wants to be found on Google’s page 1, they must be writing material that readers find useful. They want to deliver the best possible experience for the user browsing.
Publishers are content experts, so this has got to be a good turn of events. With content so much more important, publishers will be valued higher than even the SEO agencies.
So, the future of the independent publisher is looking very, very healthy. We see it in our own business, with every 2 of 3 new customers a startup newspaper or magazine, every 2-weeks! The startup publishers range from journalists who have lost their corporate jobs to media agencies and individuals. Next week we launch a newspaper for one guy who lives in a city of 200,000 people and no free community newspaper because the big one went bust a year ago – too many mouths to feed and caught in a time-warp.
Some good examples of fresh money makers that I have recently heard about include:
- Upselling advertisers to business sites built in 30 minutes which also bring in ongoing hosting fees
- Creating and maintaining social media accounts for advertisers
- Bundling social media blasts (‘we’ll tweet you to our 20,000 followers) in ad packages
- Managing the business branding and collateral for advertisers
- Charging small fees for online submissions of events, directory or classified listings
- Online shops and booking systems that enable publishers to also sell their advertisers’ products, tickets to events etc.
- Interstitial ads inserted before or after video reporting
- Creating video commercials for their advertisers
- Bundling print, digital page-flipper, web, e-newsletter packages
- A ‘Bar Guide’ or ‘Restaurant Guide’ with a competition running for best looking bar-tenders, waiting staff, food reviews by the public etc.
- Incorporating infographics into news and advertising for more appealing results from as little as $5 on Fiverr for basic
- Setting up Google Places and Adword campaigns for advertisers, even managing their SEO
- Most popular reviews from the public win a prize and ultimately promote various businesses
- Popup ‘live chats’ when visitors access the publication’s advertising page
- Online ad booking and payment plugins (eg. http://ezymagazines.com/ad-purchase/purchase.php?do=banner&zone=1) that facilitate 24/7 sales
- Producing ‘corporate magazines’ for their top advertisers and inserting it in the publication, eg. every 3 or 6 months.
- Cross promotions and bundling with non-competitive media, eg. the local community radio or TV stations
- Introducing sales kits that have all reps speaking the same language and selling from the same page
- Inhouse web ads or email blasts that promote massive savings for online ad-bookings, thereby reducing cost of sales and extending the selling time to 24/7
- Content creation for businesses – hey, this is every publisher’s area of expertise and now the candy Google so keenly desires!
- A port in a storm – offer only the very best written, well researched, relevant content and charge for it. With the glut of free content out there, readers are waking up to the wasted hours browsing crap.
I hope these ideas generate some conversation around the tea room or at your next team meeting. If you have other ideas that are working well for you, please do share below in the comments area.
Long live the (content) King!
Now, be a sport and share/tweet/like this article
John Hancock is CEO of http://www.ezymedia.com, a publishing house that provides Indesign page layout, ad design, websites, content and other services to independent newspaper and magazine publishers.