In a recent post, I pointed to work done by Tal Raviv that argued for simplicity in building and rebuilding web-based businesses. One of his five core points recommended the use of off-the-shelf solutions for things like e-commerce, online forms and digital widgets.
Several weeks ago, Frédéric Filloux posted “News media revenue matrix: The bird’s eye view“, an overview of publishing business models. In contrast with Raviv, Filloux argues that the “modern, content-rich news outlet” can be characterized in four ways (verbatim, here):
- A proven ability to produce original content in abundance and under multiple forms
- A cultural mindset to produce content for the platform with the best fit
- A newsroom equipped with the best tools money can buy or—even better—build
- Global editorial thinking
With the possible exception of the last item, these are all producer-driven considerations. Not surprisingly, the “news media revenue matrix” chart consists of a set of formats and monetization opportunities mapped to advertising, B2C and B2B revenue models.
Raviv argued that we should start with the need, serving customers rather than building a product. Filloux accurately captures the way that traditional media organizations approach disruption: look at what we can offer and try to get people to pay for it.
The more I consider these two competing approaches, the more I think Raviv is closer to getting it right. Inventorying what we have in pursuit of a market seems the inverse of what works in an era of content abundance. People can always find what they want; the opportunity lies in delivering what they want in a way that minimizes the work required to get there.
This isn’t a new idea. When Briton Hadden and Henry Luce founded Time in 1923, they wanted to deliver the news any educated person should know in a package that could be read in less than an hour. The technologies of the day emphasized the value of scale.
Now, scale is no longer a requirement, and potential audiences have a wealth of choices. The two shifts suggest strongly that any provider-driven effort to monetize content will struggle to succeed.