Tips for Publishers on ‘Harnessing the Web’s Functional Strengths’
Creating a high-value Web publishing product requires two things, said Internet marketing consultant Bill Baird during his presentation at last week’s Publishing Executive Conference & Expo. “The best products harness the Web’s functional strengths,” he said. “And the smartest publishers are partnering with (or acquiring) existing content and technology providers to deliver that.”
How to Tap the Web’s Strengths
Publishers should watch for product concepts that meet a vital need more effectively on the Web than in any other medium, according to Baird. “Putting print content on the Web and calling it a product falls far short of the medium’s potential for our brands. It’s like expanding into TV by broadcasting video of a hand flipping our pages.”
As a alternative, Baird cited four types of content that effectively leverage the Web’s strengths:
• Web-enabled functionality. These products blend informational content with video or technological functionality. Examples include streaming “away” game broadcasts on MLB.com; real-time portfolio trackers on investment publishers’ sites; Ziff Davis Media’s gaming site FileFront; and Sport Illustrated’s MySI desktop icon product.
• Timely, mission-critical information. Examples are Backstage.com’s Casting Call database of audition opportunities and MicrosoftWatch.com, an industry insider’s view of Microsoft.
• Rich databases. These contain extensive, accurate, up-to-date data that’s already organized to research an important decision. Examples are The AviationWeek Intelligence Network, Consumerreports.org’s Test Ratings database, and dating sites like Match.com.
• Business Networking. Examples include virally built LinkedIn (which Baird said had announced it was profitable within its first year), and Jigsaw, a visitor-generated sales-lead database which was one of the few large, user-contributed content sites whose rapid viral growth in paid users he believes is a sign of high value. The key with these, Baird mentioned, is their mission-critical value for salespeople and job-hunters.
Seeking or Acquiring Partners
Baird recommends that attendees partner with (or acquire) existing content and/or technology providers for speed and effectiveness. “Don’t try to learn an entirely new medium overnight,” he said. “Numerous pure-play content and service providers are now in a mature growth phase and are eager to form partnerships with you.”