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2 Choices: How To Approach Publishing In An Era Of Content Abundance

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.

About Brian O'Leary

Founder and principal of Magellan Media Consulting, Brian O’Leary helps enterprises with media and publishing components capitalize on the power of content. A veteran of more than 30 years in the publishing industry and a prolific content producer himself, Brian leverages the breadth and depth of his experience to deliver innovative content solutions.

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