NYT and The Daily on iPad: Media Companies’ Missed Opportunity

The launch of The Daily on the iPad is likely to be a step in the right direction, but media companies (Newspapers, Periodicals, TV & Radio) are still trying to put an engine on a horse-drawn buggy and calling it a car.

The Bad News First

Media companies need to realize that going digital is not just about turning picas into pixels. It’s about sparking a relevant dialogue that is wrapped around content delivered at the right time on the right device that empowers that user experience.
The best example of what NOT to do is my hometown’s newspaper, The Columbus Dispatch (locally owned along w/ TV & Radio Stations). By now you’ve heard of Ted Williams, the homeless man with the golden voice. Well, the paper had YouTube remove the video due to copyright claims. True as it may be, had the video not been posted, it would never have gone viral. They insisted on viewing the video on THEIR site in hopes of benefiting from the ad impressions. Hours later after backlash from twitterverse, the video was back up, but now on the paper’s YouTube channel (great!).
But this “mine, mine, mine” philosophy about content is the same antiquated approach the music industry had about MP3 downloads. As soon as they realized that the horse and buggy industry was gone, they adapted and are reemerging and embracing the digital space.

The Good News

Media companies power is NOT in controlling the content, but rather creating, curating, validating and distributing the content. Think about it. You’re pitching a company on a big project and you need facts. What’s more reputable – a quote from my blog or The New York Times? Media company’s editorial process means the content is well written and based on fact. Their access to the insiders of a story is deep and wide which ultimately means better content.

The Inconvenient Truth

This is NOT 1990 anymore.
The internet changed EVERYTHING.
Facebook changed EVERYTHING.
Twitter changed EVERYTHING.
Content is everywhere so convincing viewers that your content is better is like Gary Vaynerchuck convincing the guy chugging Boone’s Farm that a $50 of wine tastes better! YOU know it’s better! I know it’s better! But to the Boone’s Farm guy?…Not so much. And even then, I’m not convinced it’s worth what your charging. I am convinced, however, that when I subscribe to a newspaper I get a tangible object delivered to me. The exchange of value is simple to demonstrate. But content delivered to me on screen?? It’s not the same.

What to Do?

Here’s where I think media companies are missing the boat…ARCHIVES! This is where people can and will be willing to pay. Imagine if you will, a freemium subscription model for media companies where they BREAK the free news that goes viral because they empowered consumers to share as they see fit under creative commons. They get the traffic as long as the story is hot. They’re on their home turf doing what you do best -breaking important news. NOW, let’s say a year later, I’m writing a report to submit to a client and this story has the facts I need to cite. THIs is where I’d be willing to pay for premium content. I’ll pay market value for that news story. The price is set by demand tracked by their analytics and social sentiment. So one story may be $50, while another may be $1. The best part? Subscribers get the story for free! Think about it, pay $50 for 1 story or for a 1 year subscription. The choice is obvious. Now your web site is a backchannel for all stories and the breaking story is the gateway. News breaks that relates to archived story? Sell it!!

In A Nut Shell

  • Your content is not as valuable as you think.
  • Your content does not belong to you. Liberate your content to the masses and the masses will thank you! Ask Ted Williams.
  • Create user experiences that are designed for the device in which the content is consumed. Repurposing content is a no no.
  • Don’t treat your digital ad inventory like the red-headed step child. It has value if you hire someone to monetize it to it’s potential.
  • Forget everything you think you know or you will be a black smith serving horseless society.
  • What you learn about digital this will be old news by evening drive time so don’t just break news, break new ground.

iPhone App Siri – The Greatest User Experience EVER!

My wife and the new iPhone app Siri have a lot in common – they both have great personalities, they are brilliant AND gorgeous <insert brownie points here>.

I recently attended a meeting of the local IxDA (Interaction Design Association) where they showed videos from Interaction10, this year’s conference for interaction designers.  One video struck me as particularly poignent in my quest for the ultimate user experience.  It was a presentation by Cindy Chastain called Thinking Like a Storyteller.  Her challenge to the audience was to think about interaction design as a story that has a beginning, middle and an end and to create characters to drive that story.  The system feedback is a character that interacts with the user (also a character in the story).  This is the beauty of Siri – “she” has a personality that makes me feel happy.

The iPhone personal assistant app Siri is telling a story like no other on the iPhone.  I’ve never experienced a more relevant app that throws away the paradigm of what we expect from the iPhone UI to create the worlds greatest user experience.

From the ease of use – click a button, say what you want and poof you have results; to the super-friendly feedback – “ok, got it. Just a second while I find that for you”.  Siri has really managed to create not just a character, but a personality that is driving the story line.  Powered by Nuance’s famed speech recognition, it’s accuracy is pretty amazing.  But even that becomes commonplace after a few iterations.  THE REAL amazing thing is how brilliant the application is.

Famed sage Robert Scoble recently wrote about it calling it “The Future of the Web”.  What makes it so amazing is the integration points of web services.  It doesn’t just take me to Opentable to make a reservation, it allows me to make the reservation from within the application.  Want to find a PG-13 movie playing near you? NO PROBLEM!  Just say “PG-13 movies near me” .  Wanna tweet? Sure, say the tweet command and faster than you can say OAuth – poof – you’ve tweeted.

It’s the perfect amalgamation of elegant design, technical genius, unsurpassed user experience, utilitarian perfection and anthropomorphization of the iPhone.