Of Editors and Marketers: media planning lessons from the New News ecology

a legacy of the past?  Sydney Morning Herald's Ad from earlier this year (shot at Harbourside Open Air Cinema Feb 2010)

so I was fortunate enough this week to enjoy breakfast with the editor of an online news portal, and during our discussions it occurred to me that online news editors have more than a little in common with contemporary marketers.

the audience-centricity of online news editing was clear, from how stories are aggregated and published thru to the future platforms being considered and developed for content deployment.  the predominance of this centricity in the reader was clear when the editor talked about 'owning the reader at every point in the day'…

all this is in stark contrast to the heritage of the print newspaper, the monopoly of whom lasted for so long that it institutionalised a product-centricity which is, in some part, I believe firmly responsible for the current challenges facing the print publishing industry.  the newspaper industry 'didn't have to try for so long', was one observation made over the course of the discussion.

it occurred to me that marketers and media planners have three big things to learn from how news editors go about doing what they do…

the first is around content vs platform, and which is most important in gaining share of attention with people you want to reach.  on one hand its crucial to create appropriate and stimulating content for an audience.  this one from LG for example, which Oldham sent me this morning.

but platform is and will increasingly become the most important element.  I was never going to see this ad on TV…  I'm a light viewer at best, and now pretty much see every ad on YouTube or Facebook as and when they're recommended by friends.  the fact is that if you're aim is to gain audience share of attention you have to be platform-centric…  deploying content on those, rather than on the content's, terms.

the second learning is the old chestnut of doing not saying.  news organisations are increasingly defined not by what they say (see the Sydney Morning Herald effort above) but by what they do.  actions increasingly resonate louder then words, as any flick thru Contagious demonstrates.  this doesn't negate the need for the broadcast model – it just makes you re-evaluate its role on a schedule.

but the final lesson – and perhaps the most important – is around audience migrations.  you have an online space (Facebook page, YouTube Channel, Microsite (really?), website, etc) around which you want to aggregate an audience.  so you produce content an use search to direct them where you want to go right?  well yes, but…

…our editor was explaining that Facebook is increasingly more important than search in audience-flow to their site.  and that this traffic is dwarfed by the volume that comes direct from email links and browser bookmarks.

the lesson?  the most valuable way to aggregate an audience is to give it reason to stay connected.  book-marking, liking, registering for more, linking are all more important – in volume terms – than clicking thru search.  efforts to build long-term audiences that you encourage to keep coming back for more become significantly more valuable than one-off 'come see this' efforts.  one more nail in the coffin then for the idea of 'the campaign'.

big thanks to Rob for organising the session, brilliant stuff…

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