The future of media and other questions

Answered some questions for an article recently. Thought I’d publish them here too:

What do you think the future of news organizations will look like?

For mid-sized to large news organisations, I doubt there will be any specialist text or broadcast media companies left. Most media companies will be full, quality, multimedia operations. This will intensify as the cost and knowledge barriers fall even further.

News organisations will be publishing on multiple devices. In most countries, mobile news sites will overtake their sister “traditional” desktop websites in terms of traffic, although not necessarily revenue. In the future, most digital devices will be connected to the net and be networked — so would be targets for online media organisations’ content.

News organisations have natural networks that are their community of readers. But they will start to formalise and capture that network by creating user profiles and allowing more personalisation of content.

Bigger media organisations will also look at owning their own branded digital devices as a way of ensuring their content appears on those devices. In fact, I could see a time where media companies may give away or subsidise these devices — and the business model would be that the user pays a subscription for content and services on these devices.

Media is seeing competition like never before: from non-traditional media companies and from their own readers. If you think about it, pretty much all companies on the net are de facto media companies — some more advanced than others.

What is your business model for your news organization?

In many respects many online news operations are constrained by legacy. For example, it could be argued that the current display online advertising model is not appropriate for the net, as it’s merely a model “touched up” and imported from traditional media. More innovation is needed here. Currently we make the bulk of our revenues via online advertising, but more revenue streams are needed.

How much investment are you putting into your web site? What new technology or software are you using or looking at that will help monetize your web site.

Currently we’ve invested in a new R&D division called 20FourLabs. It’s aim is to build online applications and widgets for mobile and the desktop web. These are applications that are service based, have a social angle or rely on user generated content, as opposed to publishing per se.

What other streams of revenue are you considering for your news organization? Would this new revenue stream include using any form of technology or software such as OpenCalais?

I believe big sites could target their advertising more accurately based on contextual tagging of articles. It’s quite complex to set this up, but I believe there is a business model here.

Technology gurus believe the Semantic Web is the next generation of aggregation for the online publishing. This new form of aggregation will allow web sites a greater opportunity to monetize their web sites and provide their readers with greater information. What role will this new form of aggregation play in strengthening your bottom line?

Aggregation is a key area as the sheer volume of information grows on the web. We as users will need help in organising, featuring and finding that information. Semantic tagging services like Calais do a great job in helping to organise and categorise content for us. They make computers do the work, as opposed to us, the information-overloaded humans.

What role does social media – Twitter, Facebook, Myspace, LinkedIn, etc. – play in your web site or mobile development?

These are online applications that have revolutionised sharing and social interaction on the web. We’re building aggregators for twitter but also social networking applications that work closely with these sites. Twitter is the presently the best real-time source of information. If you want to find out what’s happening right now, this second there’s only one place to go on the net…

What innovative things are you doing to drive traffic to your web site?

We’re building a social network around our content offering, targeting the comments area of our site where most of the user interaction, debate and networking occurs. The Social Network will include ability to aggregate from users’ social networks, mine your contacts, and create hubs of interest and activities.

Matthew Buckland: Publisher


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