Supply and demand is a bitch

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I have some lessons from ONA 08 over at BeatBlogging.Org (version 2.0 nonetheless), and I wanted to highlight the supply and demand part of the post:

  • This is an issue facing journalism on the Web and not just beat bloggers. Right now, there is simply more supply of written content than there is of demand for it from advertisers. This means low CPMs for written content. It also means that text-only beat bloggers need to get a lot of page views to make a decent amount of revenue.
  • On the other hand, there isn’t enough supply of video content on the Web to meet advertisers demands. Advertisers love video ads and pre-roll. They want to stick it on your content, but are having trouble finding enough content.
  • I’m not suggesting that everyone jump to doing video, but diversifying content can help boost revenue. This could be a once-a-week podcast or vodcast with a few ads in it. It could mean shooting some video for your beat blog. But realize that video content can get a much higher ad rate than printed content can.

News organizations need to diversify their content. This means more audio, more video, more multimedia and — yes — less written content. Now, none of this matters if our multimedia content has terrible SEO and exist within ghettos.

CNN.com understands how to get people to watch lots of video. CNN.com automatically plays a new, related clip after a clip is finished. Users can build custom playlists and watch hours of video — and ads.

Most news organizations, however, allow video and other multimedia content to exist within arbitrary ghettos where that content is not connected to similar content. When a clip ends, the content stops. Related content is not linked together.

And the biggest crime of all: A lot of multimedia content on news Web sites is not properly indexed and searchable. That my friends is one of the worst ideas ever. Search is the key to content distribution.

News organizations need to address this supply and demand issue. Trust me, redundant, non-local news is not in demand. And it’s probably not that in demand by users either.

  • http://www.globaljournalism.org Patrick Yen

    Pat, thank you for advocating multimedia!
    Yes yes yes, multimedia IS the way to go!

  • Ashir

    Multimedia is a necessity for sure, but to imply that simply diversifying content presentation will lead to more page views underscores a huge problem itself: news organizations, editors and writers do not work hard enough to understand the basics of good Web site design and, more importantly, do not engage in discussions of STRATEGY. You think CNN knows how to make you watch video? Not really. I’m sure if you saw their metrics (another thing editors and news organizations take a limited view on) you would see a huge drop off after users took a look at the first, intended video. To be sure, making sure your multimedia is SEO and searchable is key, but your site should be as well (which you alluded to with the ‘no ghetto’ comment). More than that, how about creating specialized content on Web sites that target specific user segments and presenting that in multiple formats that combine to create a holistic perspective. Making users dependent on multiple components increases ENGAGEMENT and will drive page views provided your site is authentic and well thought out. There is no single shot solution to making news organizations (as content providers) as viable as they were.

  • http://astillero.org Carlos Alonso

    On the other hand, there’s more people advertising in text than in video.

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