Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Media Convergence 2.0

OK. We were all wrong the first time. Things did not converge in the mid-90s. Your phone did not become your TV, your computer did not walk your dog, etc. But technology finally appears to be catching up with big ideas, and it looks like it may actually happen this time. iPhone and Apple TV are two, big examples. I suspect, though, that the phone will be a tougher sell than was the iPod. The early adopters will do it. That's a gimme. I think the problem will be widespread adoption among folks who already have phones AND already have mobile contracts. All of sudden you could be talking about $750 to buy a new phone.

Another example of convergence a-coming is today's announcement that Meredith, the old school publisher of titles like Better Homes and Gardens and Family Circle, has acquired Genex and New Media Strategies. The former a digital ad agency; the latter a word of mouth agency. This would seem to be a sign of a traditional content company diversifying (i.e. spreading the brand) into marketing services. Time will tell if a content company getting into the ad game is the wisest way to go.

The WSJ take on it....

“The acquisitions follow Meredith’s purchase of LA-based interactive-marketing agency O’Grady Meyers ... The latest deals are the strongest signal to date that Meredith—confronting slowing growth in its core publishing and television businesses—is broadening its focus to include marketing services, one of the fastest-growing parts of the advertising industry. Even after these purchases, the Des Moines, Iowa, company is still on the prowl for other acquisitions to round out its marketing-services offerings, says Stephen Lacy, Meredith’s CEO.

I had an opportunity to speak with my friend Aaron Brown last night. No, not the deposed CNN anchor, a former producer. For the last couple of years, he has been with an outfit called The company provides info on travel deals and links to providers of travel services. Aaron has been at the forefront of getting the company to make a commitment to new media initiatives. They now host a videocast (while you're watching the video you can actually link to the deals) on their site, and there's more in the works. He believes that travel is an area where there are numerous multi-platform opportunities that have not even begun to be tapped.

But Will You Pay for It?

I didn't realize that the has more subscribers than all but three print newspapers in the country -- The New York Times, USA Today and the print version of the Wall Street Journal. WSJ publisher had this to say about it in Romanesko....

"I am very concerned that many other publishers with high-quality news brands have devalued their brands by trying to charge in one medium (print) while giving away access to brands and content in another medium (online)," he says. "But I understand that it's very hard to change strategies."

Interesting thought, but numerous publications, including the NYT, have found it exceedingly difficult to find an online model that readers will pay for.