From the Editor: Are We in This for the Long Haul or What?
Strategy. Anyone remember that word? Sometimes it seems like many in the industry have forgotten it, if they ever knew it in the first place. The priority instead is put on the fad du jour.
In the mid-'90s, it was the Web—and most publishers just threw their print content up there for free. Who cared if their advertisers were paying a pretty penny to support the content in print form and/or your readers were paying to read the content in print? Others felt there was no place for them online, or didn't see a revenue model, so they invested nothing and stayed away.
A few years ago, video became the new fad, and print editors were suddenly video producers, editors and on-screen talent. Some publishers sold video coverage to advertisers, thinking this was a whole new "ball game," so the old church-and-state thing didn't apply. Few companies, however, bothered to consider whether video made sense from a growth perspective. Even fewer plotted strategies for making it successful—or for not negatively impacting other revenue-generating products by pulling resources away from them.
One of today's fads seems to be mobile. Sure, billions of people worldwide own mobile devices, and many of those use their devices to access information. Sure, it makes sense that you have content available for them to find. But going mobile doesn't make a mobile strategy.
Jay Wilson, vice president and director of the Customer Dialogue Group at direct marketing agency powerhouse Wunderman, cites (in this month's mobile feature) a recent Audit Bureau of Circulations study showing that publishers believe the long-term monetization opportunities of mobile will be found in banner ads, sponsorships, search and other traditional forms of advertising. This, suggests Wilson, may be a bit short-sighted. Mobile is not simply a new version of print or Web. Business models behind it may not be the same.