The theme of this year’s Women’s Leadership Conference (WLC11) of the non-profit Exceptional Women in Publishing (EWIP, ) which supports women in and through the power of online and print media, was “Woman and the Machine: Publishing, Technology, and the Female Brain.” It was clear from the first panel session, however, that what the predominantly female audience wanted to discuss was not the female brain, but solutions for the paucity of female leadership in the publishing and technology world.
Kara Swisher of D: All Things Digital, put it bluntly, saying “Men are the problem for women in technology.” She pointed out that even for Web 2.0 companies where women comprise the majority of users, like Zynga, Groupon, and Facebook, “Not one of them has a woman on the board. Though they are led by sensitive new age men.” (more…)
It looks like paid content will be the next battleground for Google to go head-to-head with Apple. If you haven’t yet heard about Apple’s new rules for in-app content purchases or Google’s One Pass storefront, it’s time to get familiar with the latest conflict in the ongoing Mountain View/Cupertino cold war.
EContent covered Apple’s sudden rigorous enforcement of its content sales guidelines earlier this month, and the terms have only gotten more restrictive since then. With the release of Apple’s subscription management features, publishers are not only prohibited from linking to an external marketplace for content sales, they’re required to offer their App Store content at the same (or lower) price as they do anywhere else. Not surprising, since otherwise you’d have companies offering much lower prices for direct buys in order to entice users away from the App Store purchases and the 30% cut for Apple they entail.
The HuffPo acquisition seems to have stirred up hive of thought regarding the value of content… again. Which is great for EContent, since it’s just about all we ever think about. The New York Times’ David Carr wrote yesterday:
The Huffington Post, perhaps partly in an effort to polish the silver before going on the market, did hire a number of A-list journalists, but the site’s ecosystem of citizen bloggers and its community of commenters represent some share of its value. (How much is open to debate, as Nate Silver pointed out on the FiveThirtyEight blog.) Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Quora have been positioned as social networks, but each of them hosts timely content that can also be a backdrop for advertising, which makes them much more like a media company than, say, a phone utility. (more…)
If you’ve been following the ongoing Wikileaks brouhaha, you may have seen reports this week that the New York Times is tossing around the idea of starting its own Wikileaks-like site. Arthur S. Brisbane, the NYT’s public editor, wrote an editorial last October describing the trials and tribulations of the paper’s relationship with Wikileaks and its founder Julian Assange, whose character Brisbane described as “increasingly sketchy.” (A more recent column by executive editor Bill Keller also delves into the issue in much greater detail.) (more…)
Today, United Business Media announced that it acquired the OBGYN.net website. I would have found the move interesting on its own, but combined with the company’s recent launch of a social media consulting division, DuesM, I think that the company is up to something, something good.
United Business Media (UBM) is global business media company that focuses on two principal business activities: the distribution, targeting and monitoring of news and information from the world’s top companies, organizations and agencies through its PR Newswire division; and serving professional and commercial communities, from doctors to game developers, from journalists to jewelry dealers, from farmers to pharmacists around the world with media products that integrate events, online, print and business information. UBM has more than a dozen businesses serving B2B markets.
The company is best known for PR Newswire and for its tradeshows, which include Interop, Enterprise 2.0, Internet World, and a slew of niche events such as Tissue World, Diet & Beauty Fair, HealthCare Summit, etc. With the OBGYN.net acquisition, the company will clearly continue the company’s expansion of its network of sites targeting physicians and related medical verticals, which fall into its UBM Medica division.
However, on October 14, UBM announced its launch of DeusM, a marketing organization that creates online communities for its clients. This is a particularly interesting leveraging of the company’s longstanding reputation in the marketing and public relations community via PR Newswire as well as its increasing move into virtual events and online communities. DuesM sits nicely at the intersection of these two areas of expertise.
According to an article by Direct Marketing News:
DeusM’s most basic offering is the Social Networking Amplification Program (SNAP!), which leverages existing social networks including LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. This option puts DeusM in charge of building a client’s social networking presence, developing and updating content, and seeking potential members and fans… contact DeusM … work[s] with the company to develop the marketing campaign to draw in readers, through e-mail lists supplied by the client or large-scale advertisements. The company then reaches out to writers and editors to create regular content for readers to check out and respond to.
I would suggest that any media company today give serious consideration to two key takeaways from UBM’s recent moves:
- Based upon your core strengths, diversify, innovate, and evolve to survive. Even with two robust lines of business, the company continues to expand into virtual events and online communities to support its existing business lines and to generate new revenue streams.
- Leverage your experience as generators of substantive content that attracts audiences and help companies do the same. As experts in these areas, media companies are uniquely poised to help organization’s master brand journalism and social marketing.
Busy day at AOL: The company announced its acquisition of web video distributor 5Min and the TechCrunch network of websites, which are among the leading providers of technology news, information and analysis. Without doubt, AOL is making content a priority in its internal development as well as in its acquisition strategy.
Today, I had the opportunity to discuss this today with David Eun, president of AOL Media and Studios who agreed that this is one of the company’s primary focuses because, “This is the era where content will differentiate companies in the consumer internet space.” While he points out that AOL is “equal parts a technology company and a media company,” he says that so many companies are building platforms today and that AOL will distinguish itself through its content—and ability to scale and deliver, both to consumers and advertisers.
Certainly, the company has been enhancing its content offerings internally—such as the recently announced Project Devil and re-launched Movie Phone product—to, as Eun put it “enhance the way mobile advertizing and content work together … Here at AOL we produce a lot of content on our own, and we monetize a lot of it.” And, regarding its recent enhancements of video content provision through the acquisition of StudioNow and 5Min, he says, “from a consumer and sales growth standpoint, video is a big part of the future.”
Alluding to “lessons learned from [his] YouTube days,” Eun says “We’re thinking about content in lots of different ways, so you can create destination experiences and present video in specific place such as a channel or site.” And the company certainly is thinking about content in diverse ways, given the acquisition of two such different companies announced in the same day.
Of the TechCrunch purchase, Eun says it “reflects not just our bet on content as part of our turn around, but the importance of technology, in particular young influencers, a demo we have prioritized. With our site Engadget, and now with TechCrunch you have very focused talented journalists focused on a specific space. However, despite the success of Engadget under AOL, there was immediate speculation about what would be in it for TechCrunch (other than a formidable pay day).
According to Eun, “We have acquired TechCrunch because they do what they do really well and we don’t want to mess with that secret sauce. But there are things we can do to help them scale and grow. This is a way for them to leverage us, frankly.”
Eun’s comment about “young influencers” hints at a strategy to rehabilitate the AOL brand by invigorating it with some of the hippest names in web media such as TechCrunch founder and co-editor Michael Arrington. Eun says, “It is all about the people, we’ll bathe them in technology and distribution, but it is all about the talent and the voice.”
He also believes that “The culture at AOL is changing pretty significantly…That said, we do plan on understanding that they are distinct and we absolutely want them to maintain editorial independence.” Ultimately, he says the goal is to continue to push and think about how to create better and more content that is great, we want to bring people to AOL who wouldn’t have thought of coming to us.”
Those of you who are reading this right now have likely noticed that we’ve launched a blog here at EContent. We wanted a complete overhaul of our website and a commensurate revamp of our news delivery as well as a rethink of how we present the content from our print publication as well. Alas, like many of our publishing brethren, money for technology investments is tight as is staff to implement said technology (both from the IT and editorial sides). So we looked around and had one of those forehead slapping moments when we said, uh, maybe we should “just” launch a blog.
Now when I say “just” I in no way mean to denigrate or belittle this publishing platform. Quite the opposite. I recognize the profound impact this easy-to-use communications innovation has made on traditional publishing (not to mention laying the foundation for social media). The “just” is actually a nod to the unbelievable ease of use, and speed to market the platform provides. Rather than spend months (arguably much needed) redesigning our site, we worked with our technical team to get this blog up and running in about a week. With more than 20 years of publishing behind me, and about 10 years closely watching this digital content space—well, the increasing ease and agility of digital content platforms continues to amaze me.
EContent magazine has had a longer career in this business than I, however. Launched in 1978 as Database (renamed EContent in 2000), this magazine went online a good decade before I did. However even my first job with the company required me to learn HTML markup to post our weekly website news updates.
Speed to launch and ease of use have undoubtedly leveled the publishing playing field as exhibited by today’s announcement that The Hollywood Reporter will remake the five-times-a-week publication as a weekly glossy magazine. According to The New York Times,
The content in the magazine, which will include a mix of analytical and feature articles and photo spreads, will be coupled with an aggressive and redesigned Web operation built around breaking news. A daily digital edition, in a PDF file, will replace the daily printed version distributed to subscribers now.
Ya, I’m not so into the daily PDF. Ever heard of mobile? How about minute to minute push to show how much scoop you can get? And let’s hope this new web strategy actually takes some cues from the digitally-savvy competition.
It’s our negligence — the way we’ve served up our content over the last couple of years has allowed some really poor competitors to emerge — Richard Beckman, chief executive of The Reporter’s parent company, e5 Global Media.
I’m guessing that these “really poor competitors” couldn’t possibly include IndieWire.com or TheWrap.com? These are web-nimble upstarts from whom us old timers have a lot to learn. Our value will be in perspective, contacts, depth and breadth… but in some markets, speed will be just as important. I’d love to believe that my readers would gladly await our EContent commentary in their monthly mail box, or even in daily blog posts. When I try to keep pace with the speed of Twitter as a news platform, well, I know that old media has to do some strenuous (re-) training to catch up.
There is undoubtedly, a lot that can be learned from web-native publishing, blogs in particular. As another New York Times article, “Retooling in Response to Politico”, today suggested, longstanding media brands—in this case The Atlantic and National Journal Group are taking a very different approach to battling the digitally-native publishing brands and turning
dowdy old Washington … [into] … a hotbed for publishing innovation and ambition.
Kinley Levack–a former EContent staffer who periodically freelances for us–just wrote a wonderful news feature for our EContent Xtra enewsletter “The Office: A Changing Environment, But No Changing of the Guard.” It looks at how, despite the plethora of emerging collaboration tools, Microsoft still dominates the market with Office and SharePoint. She cites a Forrester Research report which points out that even when users consider tools from other vendors, they often look for those that will enhance their experiences with Microsoft products.
In terms of sheer market dominance, Microsoft owning a large piece of the collaboration pie isn’t much of a surprise. What did come as a surprise to me today (and maybe I shouldn’t be admitting this) is learning that Microsoft is making some pretty creative forays into the digital publishing market. At the International Broadcasting Convention this week, Microsoft featured solutions from The Associated Press, Gannett, and Tribune Company among others.
Interestingly, in addition to emphasizing benefits of Cloud Computing for agility and cost savings, the company played up the strength of its collaborations with other vendors to achieve the solutions presented: “We believe our partner community can out-innovate any single technology provider in the market,” commented Joseph Hanania, vice president, Industry Solutions for the Communications Sector at Microsoft.