(Made by Cognitive Media)
Great to see in the latest Mintel report that the UK content industry is flourishing and with more than 30% of all content marketing in digital form the industry is really getting to grips with its print legacy.
With the recent Panda updates from Google and the desperate need for brands to sustain their social network communities with rich and engaging editorial content, 2012 looks to be a promising year for content creators and content agencies.
The Huffington Post UK launch poses some very interesting challenges.
Its arrival will find a highly competitive media landscape and a very different political culture. Quickly communicating its local position to explain to those who only know the US brand will be crucial to win over early adopters.
Watching a 21st century media brand ‘bed in’ amongst a sometimes feral and often world leading local media will be fascinating to watch.
Some old and new things I picked up at the Content, Convergence and Creativity Summit of the Association of Online Publishers:
The Evening Standard announces a free strategy giving up £250k in circulation revenue each week and The Times and Sunday Times announces they are going to launch an enhanced subscription package, bundling News International content into the mix. What is going on? One is going to war and charging like hell and the other jumping into the free pond with a massive splash. One is cutting costs and chasing ads and the other is creating new revenue streams. How can the industry have such different dynamics?
Meanwhile, The Guardian continues (to lose money) and develop great behind the scenes content which ultimately will be one of the reasons that will save it in the future. Watching Steve Bell go about his work is utterly fascinating. Expect more of this as newspaper brands expand the content narrative. I for one would pay for this.
The current debate that news is free is misleading.
I don't read The Guardian on-line for news i.e. for content about events that have happened. I get that from the BBC and other sources. I read the Guardian for the interesting conversations it provokes - the editorial comment, the analysis, the specialist insights. This is the content I would be willing to pay for to consume on-line. It is pithy, quality editorial content that sparks conversations that you don't get elsewhere. The innovative participatory element of The Guardian brand experience is a monetisable attribute other media brands struggle to foster. Indeed, I once heard from a very senior Guardian executive that they were not in the business of publishing, but 'the business of curating and sustaining conversations around content'.
The Guardian brand is very strong. The daily newspaper printed business model is clearly not the future. But, what about transforming The Guardian into a high quality newsstand weekly magazine, with extra special editions you can subscribe to e.g. media, education etc. As a compact lifestyle magazine proposition it would do well targeting the metropolitan liberal. A funkier version of the Economist perhaps? Advertisers would continue to pay to reach this consumer. It could spearhead a brand subscription to 'pick and choose' content and brand experience packages, including live events, books and film.
Give away news for free on-line, but charge for the good stuff that you can't get elsewhere. Because of the brand loyalty of The Guardian no other newspaper brand is best placed to capitalise on this seismic shift.
A pay-wall would not put me off. It would validate the value of the content. A combined package of online usage and a quality weekly magazine would definitely get me.