VIDEO: Rebooting Media Think-Tank: Paid vs. Earned Media

Paid vs. Earned Media is the third and final video of our Rebooting Media think-tank series.  This time we asked:

What are the implications (and opportunities) of social web distribution eclipsing paid impressions?

See our thought leaders tackle this question and read conversation highlights below.

 

You pay for earned media, too.

There is no earned media without paid media.  Social network distribution hinges on quality content at the outset, which means that investing in your content before you publish it in the social feed is crucial.

“People loved the Old Spice ads.  They were great and funny and they blew up on YouTube, and there was a lot of earned media behind that.  And none of it would have existed if there wasn’t a TV spot that was made and bought and placed and that was very, very good.” —Greg Clayman, The Daily

“A lot of the ‘earned’ arguments came from viral sensations wearing as a badge of honor: ‘we spent no money on traditional marketing.’  People forget the impact that print, radio, and television have on online traffic.  When I was at MTV Networks, I used to joke that the channels were only there to promote the websites.” —Jason Hirschhorn, Media ReDEFined

“Now, the people who are getting paid are the people who know how to make media get earned.” —Jeff Bercovici, Forbes

 

Social is better than search for brand building.

Search advertising lacks the brand-building potential of TV and print.  Social, on the other hand, is ideal for brand-building.  Advertisers have been slow to embrace this, and we need to provide them with a compelling return story before they’ll be willing to make the leap.

“Social has enormous potential to be a brand accelerator.   Through social, I think you can build a brand much more rapidly than you can through search.” —Wenda Harris Millard, Media Link

“On the advertising side, there’s an argument that social has the potential to be a vehicle for brand advertising in a way that search can’t be.  But what should be the metric for brand?  Brand impressions are so much further up the funnel before you have an action.  I think people are trying to find some metric between CPM and CPA.”  —Erick Schonfeld, TechCrunch

 

It’s time to find the magic metric.

Even though social has been around for a while, most people don’t know how to measure success.  At Wetpaint we’ve made huge strides in this area, and other people in the room were clearly ready to make this a priority.

“There’s a tremendous amount of money being spent by the film studios specifically on television advertising, and it’s a very inefficient spend; it’s carpet bombing.  Virality and targeted advertising are a much more efficient spend, but so far digital media hasn’t been able to show the lift those properties need; they don’t see the payback.  They know it’s happening, but they don’t know how to quantify it.” —Jason Hirschhorn, Media ReDEFined

“We don’t have a choice.  We’re either going to figure this out, or we’re going to live another ridiculous couple of decades without understanding why money is spent.  Have I seen a magic metric?  Not yet.” —Wenda Harris Millard, Media Link

 

THAT’S ALL, FOLKS

I hope you enjoyed our Rebooting Media think-tank series, and most importantly I hope it pushes you to join the conversation. 

What does the next decade look like?  One thing is for sure: it will look nothing like the last one.

Search vs. social, curated vs. created, owned vs. earned – these are not binary outcomes.  How do we combine them in a way that meets the needs of the audience?

These are early days still, and there’s a huge opportunity for media players with the imagination, the brains and the courage to get there first.

 

Want more?  Download a PDF of the full published collection of perspectives prepared by these participants and others at Rebooting Media:  The Digital Publishing Revolution for a Fully Social Web

And if you missed part 1 or part 2, you can find them here:

VIDEO: Rebooting Media Think-Tank: Content Creation vs. Curation

This is the second chapter of our Rebooting Media think-tank series.  In this video, our thought leaders address the question:

Do curators bring value to content creators, or are they just stealing content?

Hear media industry executives debate the pros and cons of web curation in the video and read the most salient comments below.

 

Curators are the new editors.

As we’re overwhelmed by an increasing number of voices and information channels, we look to curators to sort through the clutter and tell us what’s important.

“I’m one of those people who reads or watches or listens a little more than the average person.  If a person wants to stay up to date on certain topics but they have a family or a job or a life, curation services can help break through and deliver.” —Jason Hirschhorn, Media ReDEFined

“A curator is an editor, essentially.  You become a trusted source by doing the hard work for your audience and telling them what’s important, whether you’ve written it or not.  Traditionally that’s been the role of great newspapers; now that function is being spread across the web.” —Erick Schonfeld, TechCrunch

 

Publishers have a love / hate relationship with curators.

Curators help to expand a publisher’s reach, but the publisher risks losing credit (and traffic).  Curators who link back and republish only enough to pique interest will keep publishers happy.

“It’s like the forest episode of Planet Earth: the animal eats the nectar and sort of destroys the plant but spreads the pollen all over.” —Jason Hirschhorn, Media ReDEFined

“A lot of money goes into making a piece of content, and then it shows up on somebody else’s website where they are ‘curating.’  That’s one word for it, and ‘stealing’ would be another.  That’s a difficult balance: we want them to put our content out there but, ultimately, if you don’t come back to us, then we’re not capturing the full value.” — Jeff Berman, NFL Digital

“You can’t capture everything and you have to make a decision about whether the value of social distribution outweighs the value of pay-for-each-play.” —Erick Schonfeld, TechCrunch

 

How does curation become a real business?  Just add creation.

Curators provide a valuable service to consumers and publishers.  But can you charge for someone else’s content?  The most compelling model going forward will be a curation / creation mix from trusted voices.

“I’m interested in content curators that are getting into the creation game.  Buzzfeed, for example, was a driver of viral content.  Then they shocked people by hiring editors and journalists and breaking a story.  They took content that they owned and used the tools and algorithms they had to publish it into the social feed.” —Greg Clayman, The Daily

“We’ve experimented with all original content and all curated content, but what performs the best is inevitably a mix.” —Ben Elowitz, Wetpaint

 

Part 3: Paid vs. Earned Media

For more from these thought leaders and others, download a PDF of the full publication Rebooting Media:  The Digital Publishing Revolution for a Fully Social Web.  

VIDEO: Rebooting Media Think-Tank: Search vs. Social Discovery

In conjunction with our Rebooting Media series and the live think-tank hosted by Wetpaint and Digitas, we are releasing today the first in a series of videos about the social web.

In this first part, our group of ten executives and journalists chewed on the question:

“Is traditional search dead as a means of discovery?”

Watch the video for yourself, and read highlights of the conversation below.

 

Search is utility, social is discovery. 

Search has never been about discovering something new, but rather finding what you want once you know what you want.  Social, on the other hand, is all about serendipity.

“Pure discovery is in what you weren’t looking for.  In search, I’m determined, I have a path.  The only real discovery in search is I’m Feeling Lucky.”   —Jason Hirschhorn, Media ReDEFined

“With search I think of words like utility and efficiency; it’s purposeful.  With social discovery, there’s an element of surprise and then, hopefully, delight.  You’re not necessarily sure what you’re looking for, because sometimes you’re not really looking for anything.”   —Wenda Harris Millard, Media Link

 

Are social users more valuable?

This was surprisingly debated in the conversation, and the conversation reflected different experiences from different publishers; and reflects the difference in methods used to draw social traffic.  For example, Forbes sees disproportionate traffic from LinkedIn to reach its largely male and older-skewing audience; while Wetpaint Entertainment uses the Facebook newsfeed to repeatedly reengage the site’s 1.4 million fans, almost all young women.   

“We see 2-3x the value with social visitors – 50% higher duration, 25% more frequency, and we’re seeing virality come [on top] of that.”   —Ben Elowitz, Wetpaint

“When you talk about running a business, the person who comes in through search is a very valuable person – more so than the person who’s coming in through social.  Social users are fleeting users, not necessarily loyal to the site.”   —Lewis DVorkin, Forbes Media

“We see equal engagement from search and social, and about equal percentages of referral traffic.” —Erick Schonfeld, TechCrunch

 

Social is hard for marketers. 

While marketers recognize the promise of social marketing, the methods and measurements are far from sophisticated for most.  We need to get better at understanding and tapping into unexpected virality and the seemingly random discovery paths in social.

“I don’t think we really know how to use social as a distribution method, other than putting “Like” buttons everywhere.”   —Erick Schonfeld, TechCrunch

“In search, purchase intent is right there.  But for advertisers in the social world, it’s harder to know exactly where that intersection is.  You want to be part of that conversation, but you risk interrupting it.”   —Greg Clayman, The Daily

“Virality happens, but it happens without warning.  By the time you can get to Madison Avenue to sell it, it’s gone.”   —Jason Hirschhorn, Media ReDEFined

 

Ultimately, social and search will converge. 

As Google works to see if it can decipher the social code, and Facebook moves closer to taking over the entire digital world, we are headed toward a merger of search and social.

“If you look a few years out and you say where’s social and where’s search, they’re in the same place.   There’s a merger between the two.  These two spaces are on a collision course, and we need to start looking three years out to see how that collision course takes shape.”   —Ben Elowitz, Wetpaint

“The intersection between social and search is growing.  I go to Google and search “bunk beds” and I get a set of useless results.  I go to Pinterest and you wouldn’t believe what I find.  That really is the intersection of social and search: it’s utility-driven, it’s purpose-driven and yet the discovery is that much richer, that much more useful.”   —Jeff Berman, NFL Digital

 

The next two parts of this three-part series:

For more perspective, download a PDF of the full publication Rebooting Media:  The Digital Publishing Revolution for a Fully Social Web.

Rebooting Media: A Live Think-Tank for Media on the Social Web

In the last several years, “social” has gone from a college fad to become the fabric that connects the internet.  And yet, even as it has taken over the wiring of the web, there is no established blueprint for what media companies should do with it.  When my company Wetpaint began reinventing media for the social web last year, I went looking for the people who had all the answers.  And I found out there aren’t any.

But there are a lot of bright, inquisitive people who have been running their own experiments and trying to find the way forward.  Wouldn’t it be great to get them all together to make a new think tank for the social web?

In conjunction with the release of our new series Rebooting Media:  The Digital Publishing Revolution for a Fully Social Web, Wetpaint and Digitas convened a group of leaders and journalists with a live audience to attack the question:  “How do you retool media for a social world?”

The conversation featured five leading executives:

  • Jeff Berman@bermanjeff (General Manager at NFL Digital)
  • Greg Clayman@Clayman (Publisher of The Daily)
  • Lewis DVorkin  – @lewisdvorkin (Chief Product Officer at Forbes Media)
  • Wenda Harris Millard  – President and COO of Media Link
  • Jason Hirschhorn  – @JasonHirschhorn (Curator of Media ReDEFined)

And who better to prompt the tough questions than three leading digital media journalists?  Our conversation included Jeff Bercovici (Mixed Media writer for Forbes); Jessi Hempel  (Senior Writer covering tech at Fortune); and Erick Schonfeld  (Editor of TechCrunch).

The conversation, hosted by Digitas SVP Entertainment and Content John McCarus and me, covered three themes.  We will be releasing the videos in three parts, listed below.  I also encourage everyone to download the full published collection of perspectives prepared by these participants and others, available via PDF at wetpaint.com/page/thought-leadership.

Event videos are available at:

Staying Connected – The Right Way to Re-Invent Publishing for 21st Century Audiences

This is the concluding entry in a series of 10 posts about the future of the media industry contained in a report titled: Rebooting Media: The Digital Publishing Revolution for a Fully Social Web.

I feel blessed and inspired to be connected to the incredible thought leaders whose insights and perspectives you’ve just read. And I’m hoping you feel challenged, provoked, and, ultimately, inspired to think about how to make the social Web a media success.

Over the last year on my blog, Digital Quarters, and in my newsletter, I have shared stories, analysis and prescriptions – all in the name of driving this new digital era forward.

To me, one essential principle lies deep at the heart of the rewired Internet.  It is a simple and basic concept, but one that guides all the promise of the social Web: We must truly understand and delight our audiences.

The social Web fully enables this concept in a way that did not exist over the last decade, much less the century before it.

Indeed, never before has the data existed and been accessible – in real time, with precision and detail, and to every publisher – to know the audience and serve it well.

But today it is.

Between usage analytics, audience data, social graphs, global Twitter feeds, and direct interactive feedback, we can receive millions of signals each minute that tell us how well we are serving and, more prescriptively, what we can do to better serve our audiences.

For the publishing industry, this provides an unprecedented opportunity for content experiences to earn deep relationships with audiences who are now connected like never before. We can know our audiences, create for them, and reach them – and, in the process, make our own brands stronger and more meaningful than ever.

And therein lies a path that will lead to the re- establishment of our industry’s success.

The future prosperity of digital media will certainly have some things in common with its past legacy; but a host of other things will undergo massive change.

What’s clear to me, though, is that the revolution in our data and connectivity-rich environment will help us create content and experiences that honor the best that our industry has ever put forth, while pushing even further.

I can’t wait to work side by side with the industry’s greatest thought leaders and practitioners to make it happen.

And, as we look forward, if you’d like to join the discussion, I’d welcome your thoughts, opinions, views, comments and criticisms.

Please send them to me at ben@wetpaint.com.

And, if you’re interested in participating in a future edition of this thought leadership gallery, by offering your take on things, I’d love to hear from you as well.

Thanks for reading.

Ben Elowitz


To download the complete report, please click here:  Rebooting Media: The Digital Publishing Revolution for a Fully Social Web

The People-Powered Web Is Revolutionizing Innovation

This piece from Anthony Soohoo is the ninth in a series of 10 posts about the future of the media industry contained in a report titled: Rebooting Media: The Digital Publishing Revolution for a Fully Social Web.

Q:  How does the rise of Facebook change the relationship between media and its audience?

What’s changed is how we reach users at a global level. In essence, Facebook has created an important layer of intelligent recommendations adding more relevancy than previously possible in a broadcast world.  In the process, this will change how the media companies deliver their content. The downside, however, is that there’s less discovery of content going on. But the media has a real chance to build deeper relationships with users now; consumers just aren’t anonymous anymore. They – and we – know what they like, and don’t like.

So, the delicate balance is this: Facebook makes discovery more challenging, but it affords us an opportunity for infinitely more personalization. And that means engagement is a lot more effective.

 

Q: What’s changed fundamentally about media with the rise of the social Web, and what do publishers need to do to adapt?

When they put content together, publishers have to determine who their influencers are. Who do they resonate most with? Then, they have to get to that group first, and build a groundswell with that audience. In the past, publishing was a broadcast type of model. Think of a bullhorn. It’s completely changed with the social Web. The key, as I’ve said, is to reach the influencers first, and then have them add to the story. That’s how you really engage an audience.

 

Q: We’ve gone from SEO (Search Engine Optimization) to SMO (Social Media Optimization), so how will search change as the Web becomes more social?

That’s a great question. First of all, I’d say we’re going to see more personalized search results. In other words, search based upon what someone’s interests are, and what a person’s friends like. It’s putting a personalized interest graph on top of search results. And the efficiency and effectiveness will improve; instead of getting 43 million results, many of which are irrelevant, you’ll get the top 20, and they’ll be of considerable interest. So, in this way, the social Web will add more meaning. The people-powered-Web will be the big driver of innovation over the next five to 10 years.

 

Q:  How do you build a brand in publishing when, with greater frequency, media is distributed through social channels?

It seems to me that you have to recruit and engage your influencers. And you have to make certain you’re hitting the right audience. Finally, you have to layer content down in a very social and personalized manner. Blasting content out like a billboard takes the uniqueness out of the social Web. I believe the stories of the future will actually integrate tidbits from influencers, and they’ll also be more rhetorical and open-ended. Publishing will become more Wiki- like. People can – and will – contribute. And those contributions will matter as much as the stories themselves. The role of the editor will be to get the fire started by determining which channels and influencers are necessary to ignite the story. The editor will bring up worthy discussions across the Web and highlight them, too. This is how the stages of conversation will unfold. At first, it will be unfiltered and like the Wild West, however. Then it will get reined in, and most stories will go through a filtered version via friends or an editor. This filtering process will allow content to live a longer and richer life on the Web.

 

Q: What are the critical success factors in publishing as we look to 2020; and who will be the winners?

Facebook could be a winner. And the two guys in the garage that we don’t know about will be winners. There are five to 10 big winners that we don’t know about yet. But the critical success factors are clear: know your audience; serve users and delight them; and then go beyond this. Content will change over time; and these changes will change because of the social Web’s profound influence. What we’re really talking about here is content plus one.

 

Anthony Soohoo is the Co-Founder & CEO of Rumpus and former SVP & GM of Entertainment at CBS Interactive. Soohoo joined CBS in 2007, when it acquired Dotspotter, a fast-growing community-powered entertainment property where he served as Co-founder & CEO. Prior to Dotspotter, Soohoo was Vice President at Yahoo!, where he was responsible for the strategy, management, development and financial performance of various business units.

To download the complete report, please click here:  Rebooting Media: The Digital Publishing Revolution for a Fully Social Web

How ecommerce Is Blazing a Trail on the Social Web for Publishers

This piece from Theresia Gouw Ranzetta is the eighth in a series of 10 posts about the future of the media industry contained in a report titled: Rebooting Media: The Digital Publishing Revolution for a Fully Social Web.

Q:  How does the rise of Facebook change the relationship between media and its audience?

Facebook becomes the jumping off point for many browsers who count on their friends to curate interesting media for them. How news gets “found” becomes less about searching Google news, and more about checking your Facebook newsfeed.

 

Q: What’s changed fundamentally about media with the rise of the social Web, and what do publishers need to do to adapt?

Publishers need to understand the “start” point for their digital users. It used to be a portal, so you cut a deal with one of them. Then, it was a search box, so you SEO-optimized your content. Now, it is a social media platform (Facebook or Twitter), and publishers need to understand how to optimize their content for maximum social sharing and social media amplifications. Don’t get me wrong: in each phase, it has always been about great content. But that is just the necessary first building block. Then you need to figure out the distribution to get maximum audience engagement.

 

Q: We’ve gone from SEO (Search Engine Optimization) to SMO (Social Media Optimization), so how will search change as the Web becomes more social?

Reference or informational search will remain relatively unchanged (for example, “What is the capital of Iowa?”). But “search,” where you are looking for guidance or information that has a subjective or has a taste aspect to it, will be completely transformed by social. Instead of typing in “Best sushi restaurant in Palo Alto,” you will ask your friends, or go to a site with a like-minded social groups (foodies, vegans, etc.).

I think we are still in the early days of SMO. Many large publishers have not yet even thought about this, nor are they aware that they should be. As with SEO, they will need to upgrade their content management / publishing systems and processes. Many will turn to start ups, like Wetpaint, to help with this.

But SMO can be even more. Unlike in the search world, where a supposed Chinese wall existed between SEO and SEM, leading platforms can now encourage their advertisers to also invest in SMO as well. So a very savvy company can leverage and get synergies from their investments and learnings from SMO + SMM (Social Media Marketing) in a collaborative way.

As with the early days of the portal and search platform eras, the ecommerce players were the first to experiment, invest and learn about the power of the new platforms to get broader distribution / audience. This is understandable, given that their business models more easily lend themselves to direct data gathering and learning for marketing spend. Once again, in social, I see the ecommerce players blazing a trail for publishers: the GroupOns, Zyngas, ModCloths, and Birchboxes of the world are good places to start.

In parallel to social, I think we are also seeing a platform shift – from PCs to mobile Internet devices. So, clearly the rise of iOS and Android are important platforms for publishers to understand and adapt to, both in terms of the technology and the distribution nuances.

 

Q:  How do you build a brand in publishing when, with greater frequency, media is distributed through social channels?

You need to learn how to build your brand following on social media and realize that, no matter how strong your brand is in other channels, this is a whole other effort. It is not just an add-on and thinking of how to get “Likes.” The “packaging” of your content needs to be social media optimized for sharing and tie to your social media presence on your Facebook page and Twitter. It is an interconnected ecosystem that cannot be thought of as separate pieces.

 

Q: What are the critical success factors in publishing as we look to 2020; and who will be the winners?

Understand that we are in a new era. Social media distribution, branding and user-driven pull – not your push distribution – will win. Also, understand how your mobile approach is intertwined with what you need to do. The winners today will be the companies that have created these new social and mobile platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Apple iOS and Google Android), as well as the market leaders who have successfully built the first leading companies on top of these platforms (Zynga, Groupon etc.). As for the winners in 2020: I’m in the business of funding start up innovation, so I would say it’s the companies that may not even yet be formed – but they will be, in the next year or two.

 

Theresia Gouw Ranzetta joined Accel Partners in 1999. She is an investment Partner in Accel’s Palo Alto & New York offices and focuses on companies in the social commerce, vertical media, consumer mobile applications and privacy/security markets.

To download the complete report, please click here:  Rebooting Media: The Digital Publishing Revolution for a Fully Social Web

Turbo-Charging the Web’s New Personal Recommendation Engine

This piece from Wenda Harris Millard is the seventh in a series of 10 posts about the future of the media industry contained in a report titled:  Rebooting Media: The Digital Publishing Revolution for a Fully Social Web.

Q:  How does the rise of Facebook change the relationship between media and its audience?

I’m not sure that Facebook is media. But Facebook has changed everything. I see it as a platform for connection. The challenge for marketers is in connecting effectively with audiences in these kinds of social environments. I think advertising by its very nature is often intrusive, but it tends currently to cross the line and be disruptive in social media. It may violate trust with audiences. So, how are advertisers going to reach people most efficiently and effectively in a social environment? Advertising or commercial messaging is going to be like nothing we know today.

 

Q: What’s changed fundamentally about media with the rise of the social Web, and what do publishers need to do to adapt?

If you’re a brand marketer, you can no longer interrupt the discussion. You have to be part of the discussion. This has a lot of implications. And you have to ask yourself whether people come to you, or do you look at social platforms as a way to build and distribute content and your own messaging. The economic models have changed. In the past, in a siloed world, you had your own site, and you went about the business of attracting an audience and monetizing that site. That’s a simple formula, and it’s not nearly as relevant anymore. We are now living in a world where you have to find your audience where it aggregates. You have to find the audience on someone else’s platform, and then figure out how to make money. This throws everything we’ve known in traditional marketing on its head.

 

Q: We’ve gone from SEO (Search Engine Optimization) to SMO (Social Media Optimization), so how will search change as the Web becomes more social?

We’ve learned so much about the value of recommendations from friends and colleagues. Now, with the continued advance of the Web as a social environment, what’s going to happen is that, instead of typing certain things into the search box, there will be an increasing tendency to go to your social circle for input.  If you need an address, you’ll go to the search engine; but if you need a great back doctor, you’ll ask friends or colleagues. This is the personal recommendation engine, and it will be part of our lives. Think of it as personal optimizations  – how do you get the best information from your social circle?

 

Q:  How do you build a brand in publishing when, with greater frequency, media is distributed through social channels?

Publishers are worried about the abundance of user-generated content in the whole social media experience right now. The plethora of choice for consumers is almost overwhelming. Yet I believe that consumers are still looking for a trustmark. Of course, you’ll be able to read your friends’ recommendations, and you’ll share on whatever platform you’re using, but when you’re looking for information, I still believe that brands represent a level of trust or a Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval. That said, when you’re growing a brand today, you can no longer just build it and expect that they will come. Building and enhancing your brand as a .com online is only one element in all this. You need to be where people are – that’s the Facebook phenomenon.

 

Q: What are the critical success factors in publishing as we look to 2020; and who will be the winners?

New media, digital media and social media – it will all be called media. And the winners will be those who find a way not to define themselves by their tried-and-true or historical practices, or by their distribution channels. You can’t define yourself as a magazine publisher; you’re a content provider. You need to step out of the channel you live in and understand how each of the pieces fits together. How does TV fit with Facebook, for example? Or search engines or print with anything in social media? The key is knowing where commerce is – online and offline. What is the relationship among all media channels? The winners will grasp these interrelationships.

 

Wenda Harris Millard is President & COO of Media Link LLC, a leading advisory firm that provides critical counsel to clients in the marketing, media, entertainment, and technology industries. Prior to this, Millard was Co-Chief Executive Officer and President of Media, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, and Chief Sales Officer of Yahoo. She has also served as the Chief Internet Officer at Ziff Davis Media, President at Ziff Davis Internet, and Executive Vice President at DoubleClick.

To download the complete report, please click here:  Rebooting Media: The Digital Publishing Revolution for a Fully Social Web

The Three S’s of Social Media – Surprise, Serendipity and Spontaneity

This piece from Jason Hirschhorn is the sixth in a series of 10 posts about the future of the media industry contained in a report titled: Rebooting Media: The Digital Publishing Revolution for a Fully Social Web.

Q:  How does the rise of Facebook change the relationship between media and its audience?

Facebook is obviously a transformative platform.  It’s a disruption in the distribution of content. The social endorsement in “sharing” or “liking” a piece of content on a platform like Facebook is almost as important as the content itself. And while they like the digital “word of mouth” I think this scares the film, TV and publishing industries. Why? Because, unlike in the past, they are not controlling the distribution and conversation the way they used to. The “feed” is taking on search, too, because users are ultimately using it as a discovery platform. You may go to Google to find what you already knew you wanted but now the content streams deliver you content you had no idea you wanted, and with an endorsement from someone you know or follow. This social endorsement changes the way you discover and consume content.

 

Q: What’s changed fundamentally about media with the rise of the social Web, and what do publishers need to do to adapt?

It’s clear that media is becoming unbundled. It’s also multi-platform as the access points are fragmented. It’s real time or archived and it’s on-demand. This sets the trend for what and where people consume. In today’s new and evolving social  environment, the packaging and distribution are under less control. Again, the social endorsement of content is just as important as who created the content or what it’s about. Our interests widen on Facebook or Twitter, and we’re able to see the tastes and interests of people we respect or know. We used to turn to TV, radio and print for all our cues, but we’re now going to Facebook or Twitter or Tumblr… to our friends and the people we follow. Traditional media seems slightly hindered because it holds on to its traditional standards. Whether it is scheduling in television, definitions of journalism, and creators as curators or controlling the entirety of your brand. But things are slowly changing. New forms of media bring spontaneity, serendipity and personalization. There are always surprises within your content stream. I realize now I only know a little about the things I like. The fun is in discovering those things you never knew you’d be interested in. That’s what I like about it.

 

Q: We’ve gone from SEO (Search Engine Optimization) to SMO (Social Media Optimization), so how will search change as the Web becomes more social?

My personal view is that search is falling down. People are now using it more for navigation than discovery. “Where is the thing that I want?” Maybe search isn’t about real discovery. I use search less today because of Facebook and Twitter, which are becoming significant parts of my content decision-making process. I’m interested in seeing the news that my friends are reading today. That would keep me on Facebook even longer, and add to the discovery element. Despite its huge impact, though, Facebook and Twitter haven’t even begun to really take advantage of content discovery experiences. They will. It’s going to be a great evolution to watch and positively disruptive.

Those changes will be a perfect match between gathering or discovery technologies and a truly human filter. Ultimately, content discovery needs to have human layers. Without them, it has no “life”, no context. This is where Google has fallen down as a product company. Algorithms vs. Humans. When it comes to content, which always has an emotional bent, humans always beat the computer. Clearly Google+ is trying to address some of that, but they have a ways to go.

Going forward, I believe we need to see more influencer targeting and noise-level targeting. How do you help people or companies find those who are moving the social media mountain? How do you find these influencers and deliver highly relevant and personalized content without infringing on their privacy or conversation and then let them run with it? That will be a key part of the new optimization. These changes will revolutionize advertising and make media spends way more efficient. What it takes to get “lift” will be far different and mediums like television will need to fall in line and adapt.

 

Q:  How do you build a brand in publishing when, with greater frequency, media is distributed through social channels?

From my point of view, curation is the next great layer of value on the Internet. In a world where everything is available, Curating content helps users sift through everything. Trusted sources are coming back. The New York Times is curating when it decides what it will cover. But they don’t seem to curate other’s work. And yet the journalists at The Times pass around links and stories on Twitter that are written by other sources. Those journalists are trusted sources and now curators. I think publications should be establishing relationships with curators; and then they can re-package and re- bundle content into new and important layers. You can build big and important brands with curation today. I know I’m going to try.

 

Q: What are the critical success factors in publishing as we look to 2020; and who will be the winners?

There are five areas I’d touch on here:

1.  Curation, for the reasons I’ve explained above.

2.  Form factors. Content should be allowed to shape shift.

3.  How you distribute. Your site to RSS to email to Flipboard to Twitter and beyond.

4.  How you allow social media inside your content.

5.  How smart your paywall strategy is. The New York Times has done the best in this area.
Allowing for social media linkages while continuing to build a pay-model.

 

Jason Hirschhorn, a media and technology entrepreneur, is the curator of Media ReDEFined (@MediaReDEF), a free daily news feed covering the changing world of media, communications, entertainment, marketing and technology. The former President of MySpace, Hirschhorn has also served as President of Sling Media, Chief Digital Officer at MTV Networks and is on the Board of Directors of MGM Studios.

To download the complete report, please click here:  “Rebooting Media: The Digital Publishing Revolution for a Fully Social Web”

Building Great Relationships With Your Social Media Fan Base

This piece from Erik Flannigan is the fifth in a series of 10 posts about the future of the media industry contained in a report titled: Rebooting Media: The Digital Publishing Revolution for a Fully Social Web.

Q:  How does the rise of Facebook change the relationship between media and its audience?

Facebook is a platform, not just a Web site, and it has created a public sentiment meter. In fact, sometimes there seems to be wild over-reactions to the sentiment expressed by the “Like” button. And many people might suggest that “Like” has created a currency of some kind. Whether it’s actually worth something or not remains to be seen, however. It may end up being the lowest possible of all audience benchmarks of interest. We don’t know yet. Some of our properties get modest traffic through Facebook; others get 75-80 percent of their traffic through Facebook. From my perspective, though, it offers a measure of sentiment, a measure of what is most socially relevant.

 

Q: What’s changed fundamentally about media with the rise of the social Web, and what do publishers need to do to adapt?

On some level, the social Web breaks down the walls for those who want to go there. Real people tell us how they feel in an unvarnished way, in an unfiltered way. There is a fan base that’s active on social media platforms that wants more, and that is looking for relationships with shows and personalities. That means we have to create more and more digital content, and it has to be content that can stand alone. If you want to build a fan base, you have to do this with content. And this has probably made us at MTV think more about marketing our shows all year long, not just at premiere.

 

Q: We’ve gone from SEO (Search Engine Optimization) to SMO (Social Media Optimization), so how will search change as the Web becomes more social?

Search is like fixing your tire. There are times when you have to do it. So, it will continue. That said, the idea that search is the end all and be all is definitely changing. We saw this in focus groups we did with young men. They said if something is important enough, it will find me. All I need is Twitter and a newsfeed. Also, I think more and more people understand that search is a game, that the search system is gamed. And so, search has become less satisfying, and consumers are moving away from their reliance on search. Social filters are better and more timely, especially because you can run out of things to search for. We’re moving to a future where we’ll have some version of tracking, managing and increasing prominence of the super-influencers. And I believe that parsing out the most influential of your social followers will become big, and become a business.

 

Q:  How do you build a brand in publishing when, with greater frequency, media is distributed through social channels?

It’s tough. And it’s easy to disassociate brands and content. That’s why we need to do more when it comes to thinking things through to the end experience. This is important, and you can see that consumers are giving publishers credit when there’s an open dialogue. Instagram is a good example here. They have thought about the end-to-end experience. It’s much more than a name. Its identity is tied to an experience, to sharing. And they didn’t allow themselves to just be a platform. They are aspiring to become a noun, not just a brand.

 

Q: What are the critical success factors in publishing as we look to 2020; and who will be the winners?

We must fix the issue of monetization in digital space. There is a horrible battle brewing between the growth of the audience and the lack of currency to monetize. And there’s nothing – no real answers – on the horizon. TV has been online for five years, for example, and the problem hasn’t been solved. There’s big growth and big innovation, and yet we haven’t figured this out.

 

Erik Flannigan joined MTV Networks from AOL, where he was vice president of programming. Before that, he was at Buena Vista Datacasting / The Walt Disney Company as vice president of programming. And prior to that, he served as vice president of music services and programming at RealNetworks. Earlier, Flannigan was senior vice president, Entertainment Verticals, for the Walt Disney Internet Group.

To download the complete report, please click here:  “Rebooting Media: The Digital Publishing Revolution for a Fully Social Web”