Traditional media as we know, is being disrupted and this move had been seen and known to come, with the curious wonder being why the incumbents are taking their time to mitigate the onslaught. Only last month did Facebook, currently the world’s largest social network announce its work on a newspaper type product build atop its news feed feature with a deep understanding of what its users like, respond to and the social graph that we continue to feed daily via the numerous tools Mark Zuckerberg and team have churned out. If this move by the social media giant will not trigger action from the incumbents, then surely their time has come.
Social media properties such as Facebook and Twitter, given the fire hose of user generated content linked to real world happenings gives them deeper insights than any editor waiting on stories from the field can ever manage.
Save for the advertising gold mine that such data and its use brings, there is a negative perspective to it. Given the social experiments with wording and tinkering of the newsfeed that Facebook has been known to do in the past, a full featured “newpaper” product easily determine the outcome of global events such as elections, control the sentiments of populations across entire continents and even lead to a filtered worldview; though it can be argued that the same already happens with traditional media the world over.
What options exist for the incumbents in this new age of Twitter journalism and breaking news on Facebook and YouTube? The only direction would be for them to move beyond the headline driven agenda and start to think of how to augment what is coming. They do after all have the historical information that would give any headline more depth and understanding, which I believe consumers are ready and willing to pay for. Changes in delivery mechanics could also see them increase the numbers of active paying consumers of their products; no more extrapolation of the number of readers by 5X to woo the advertiser whose demands for more targeted media with measurable ROI are now the norm.
Some players had started off on the right footing but then lost it behind a pay wall that offered no differentiation but instead asked for chapter upon chapter of personal information before proving value. The same cluelessness seems to follow the whole brood when it comes to the move from analog to digital, pushing the wrong model in a bid to remain relevant.
The writing is on the wall and the media landscape as we know it will morph over the next decade, changed by innovation from either a locally domiciled startup or by an outside platform that sees the opportunity and the gap with an addressable market in the millions.