Tracking Traditional Media Transformation

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One of the interesting parts of my job as CEO of Three Pillar is identifying industry trends and creating strategies that capitalize upon them. There are several things I do to stay abreast of the latest happenings. For example, I review a daily reading list every morning, and I regularly meet with other executives and professionals to discuss prevalent trends and topics. The best source of intelligence is by staying active and in tune with our prospects and clients.

Over the past year, one of the trends we identified early is the transformation underway with traditional media companies. We identified the trend early when PBS engaged us to help execute on their interactive strategy. Since then, companies such as Gannett, Newscorp, and Time have all followed suit in focusing more attention on digital assets and mobile strategy. Just over a month ago Gannett, the parent company for USA Today, made such a dramatic shift that it announced that it was laying off 9% of it’s workforce to enable their shift in strategy – which was specifically designed to “deliver stories more quickly to mobile devices and produce more coverage likely to sell advertising“.

USA Today’s announcement, as well as similar ones made by Newscorp and other large media companies, was confirmation of this trend. Early this year Three Pillar began pouring significant resources into understanding the paradigm shift that is occurring. We believe that the trend is due to the collision of two major factors:

  • the rapidly accelerating death of traditional, print based, media
  • the recent innovation of user friendly mobile devices.
The popularity of both touch screens and larger mobile display surfaces has certainly provided a more consumable interface upon which users can enjoy their favorite periodical.
It is critical that traditional media companies reinvent themselves into something more relevant. It is my belief that significant innovation will come from traditional media companies, and specifically publishers, over the course of the next few years. This innovation will not be limited to technology, I believe that these companies will need to reinvent themselves from the top down to stay relevant. Their entire business model will need to change. While technology will certainly be a piece of this change, so will their revenue models, how they embrace or compete with the micro-publishers, how they interact with the social web, deliver content to their readers, and partner with aggregators.

If you get excited by true business innovation as I do, you’ll want to watch the publishing and traditional media companies over the next several months and years. I’m excited that Three Pillar was able to identify this trend early and has significant experience in helping large publishers refine and deliver their mobile strategy. This is an exciting time to be in the space.

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