The big offline [tag]publishers[/tag] should be raking it in from the net, they have the infrastructure and talent in place to produce high quality content that web users love. And while a number of newspapers and magazines have great websites, even the most web savvy publishers aren’t taking full advantage of their portfolio of products online.
place your bets gentlemen – via flickr
The web has opened up opportunities for small companies and solo writers create [tag]niche websites[/tag] which can produce reliable revenue streams in sectors where offline publishers should be flourishing.
But some publishers just don’t get it.
Why they should be winning
Brand Awareness – even though mag circulations are falling, few niche websites can match a well distributed magazines’ reach. If you factor in everybody who has bought a copy of the magazine in the last few months, every friend or relative who picked up a copy from the coffee table and every shopper who saw the front cover on the shelf; you have huge volumes. With this [tag]mind share[/tag] and audience you have a ready made community to build a web property around.
Great Writers – while there’s a difference between writing for the web and print, if you’re great at one, the chances are you’ll be pretty handy with the other. With a staff of highly trained and experienced journalists, offline publishers should be producing top notch web copy at a furious rate.
Budgets – most successful [tag]niche publishing[/tag] sites start out as hobbies, with next to no budgets, in comparison, even the publishers with the tightest purse strings have some money to play with. A small financial investment can ensure great functionality and content from the very beginning that would embarrass competition with a free wordpress template, Google Adsense and amateur content
Connections – it’s a cliché but it’s not what you know but who you know. This is certainly true when it comes to online publishing. It could be an existing relationship with PR company that helps secure an exclusive review or knowing the industry players well enough to secure a scoop; offline publisher should have an unfair advantage.
And why they aren’t winning
Too Slow – I used to work at a fairly major UK [tag]publishing company[/tag], I left nearly a year ago and there are still online projects from my time there which haven’t launched. The webs a dynamic place and you need to be able to respond instantly. The online publishing world demands an agile business which is a culture shock to many traditional media businesses.
Prefer Print – a lot of journalists up until recently, used to see online as print’s ugly sister. It was usually the most junior member of staff given the responsibility of updating the website. However now many of those juniors are now senior members of the team and more people are making the leap to online journalism.
Worried about Business Models – A few people online at the moment seem to think that having no business model can be a benefit to your business. I don’t completely agree but I do think people can get a bit too worried about how they are going to monetise a site. I’m a firm believer in the adage; “if you build they will come” if you’ve got enough highly targeted traffic you will never struggle to find advertisers in one shape or form.
Fear Cannibalisation – hopefully the days of when magazines and papers feared putting their content online for fear it will stop people buying their product. Fortunately most have now realised if you don’t put it online, someone will put something very similar online and you’ll lose them anyway.
There’s lots of offline publishers making some great moves online, but it’s the companies who made the move first that are reaping the real rewards. Any that get left behind now will never catch up.