The New Media Is Dying. And You Can’t Help it.

The new media needs to pivot.

Gigaom is dead.
They were one of the pioneers in tech blogging space.
Several other interesting blogs are dead (for e.g. Andrew Sullivan, one of the few bloggers who started his own blog in 2000 and continued till 2014).
What’s happening is this: new media is dying and there is very little you can do about it.
Let me explain.

New Media Was Largely About Engagement

Massive engagement from readers and the audience is what shaped the new media businesses (a.k.a blogging). This was what defined the web2.0 movement, enabling participation from all. It was a 2-way street (engage/discuss/debate/bitch/chill).
But with the rise of social platforms like Twitter and Facebook, new media publishers are losing the edge.
Analyst Ben Thompson puts it beautifully.

New Media : Stuck In The Middle
New Media : Stuck In The Middle
The new media publishers are stuck in between.

 “value is moving towards the individual creators of that content – writers, editors, artists, etc. – and towards the platforms that allow for discovery and/or distribution of that content (Facebook, etc.) and away from publishers and media companies of various kinds.”

The new media publishers aren’t a destination site anymore. They are losing have lost conversation to Facebook and Twitter.
No wonder, some of the new sites like Recode have decided to entirely ditch the commenting system on their articles. The great/insightful debates are anyways not happening on the site – so why even worry about that?
TL;DR: Engagement is dead. Facebook and Twitter killed on-site engagement. Nobody ‘owns’ the audience anymore. The off-site engagement doesn’t help – simply because you don’t own that audience. Plus, social engagement, in news business is largely about the race of ‘breaking/exclusive’ news, an area which largely belongs to mainstream media publishers.
Case in point: Gigaom’s shutdown article has received ONLY 34 comments, but the tweet has received (at the time of writing this), 300+ RTs and 85 Favs! Gigaom Editor Stacy’s tweet has received more RTs and Favs.

Who owns the audience? Is the audience engaging with the brand or a person?

Lack of collaboration

Media is a very front-end brand led business. While big media brands have a muscle power, new media brands are mostly led by founders who have a certain personal brand appeal. And they don’t want to let go of this by collaborating/merging with others (often seen as a step-down).
In the end, they all end up doing ‘small things’ (case in point: Venturebeat is now focusing on research / maybe collaboration with Gigaom would have made the two entities bigger).

New Media: Not About Opinions & Observations Anymore!

Opinions / Perspective are getting costlier by the day.
I remember sharing some perspective on a company’s product couple of days back and the result was these was 8 calls – right from their PR team to marketing team; all saying ‘you should have spoken to us first’.
The fucking problem lies with your product, but given that companies/startups are used to be treated in a ‘certain way’ (all goodie stories) by the media, they expect all sorts of media to be politically correct and well, dumb.
Is an opinion/perspective worth 10 phone calls asking for an explanation? Well, you decide!
Plus, the majority of the audience doesn’t care much about quality content. The ones who care are too less in numbers to be monetizable (Gigaom was among the best content play out there).

Media Revenues

This is no-brainer.
The advertisers don’t care much about niche audience. Given that Facebook and others offer focused targeting (at least they say so), most of the advertisers look at media buying same as buying inventory from mainstream media.
The niche-ness of new media is going through its own deciding moments.

Audience Doesn’t Care. The Taste Has Changed. 

Why You No Pivoting?

Turbulence Ahead!!
Turbulence Ahead!!
The audience has changed. They don’t care if you live or die. There is pretty much minimal brand loyalty in this space.And don’t blame the audience – they are bombarded with content on the social web and every media/product needs to find a place there.
Which means, the new media needs to pivot. And the pivot won’t be easy.
Gigaom shutdown was, IMO largely a function of screwups (they spent $8mn in one year?) by the management team (especially after Om left), but beyond this, the fact of the matter is that new media isn’t that new anymore.
It is maturing and is going through its own evolution.
The matured publishers will reflect on this experience and do something bigger.

In The End : It’s All Good!

The media business is evolving.
The entire space is going through its own defining moments and the smarter ones who have the capability to think beyond media will make it bigger!
A Note to all my *new media* colleagues: Have fun! Stay Cool ! Enjoy & Sleep Well !
[Image credit: shutterstock]

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