Weekly comment: fat birds and chip wrappers
Where content is king, and crowns are everywhere, trust and brand reputation are everything
It was often said that today’s newspapers were only tomorrow’s fish and chip wrappers, but what about today’s publishing industry, with its mix of digital and print, app and web, blogging and video publishing? Does this chaotic – and rapidly evolving – content have more permanence, or less?
Of course both then and now the reputation and trustworthiness of the publication and its content is critical to acquire and retain an audience, but with so many sources now available, there is another factor at play: trusted filter.
With so many channels of discussion, content, opinion and data, the next great publication is likely not to be a publication at all, but an aggregator and filter of information from across channels.
There are already some platforms for doing this, Flipboard being one of the best known, but they have not – thus far – had the brand reputation or trust that more established titles who have successfully expanded into the digital sphere, like The Guardian, The Economist or The Wall Street Journal, have.
The other approach — building a published experience around user expectations first, building reputation through content and quality – is typified by Quartz, built from the ground up for bite sized, smart phone and tablet friendly articles and an international, mobile audience. In a very short time they have achieved 1.8m unique visitors per month (compared to The Economist’s 2.2m, who have used a contextual ‘Lean Forward / Lean Back’ approach to optimising their content for different devices).
This all suggests that consumers want to digest their media in very much a layered approach, with less daunting content being optimally presented on the device they are using, with an option to go deeper when they trust the brand title’s expertise. This browse <>engaged<> read <engage>gives opportunity for both the technical /’filter’ solution and the brand heavyweights to gain the high ground in the publishing platforms of the future. The challenge for the big titles is to use their content creation in more engaging ways, optimised for relevant devices (that’s the actual content not just the delivery technology); and for the upstarts like flipboard and Quartz, to get widespread credibility as a trusted source for valuable journalism, viewpoints and ‘first stop’ for information. We will have to wait and see who get there…
Why the Twitter IPO shows up the flaw in brand value
The recent IPO of Twitter reached $45 per share, valuing the company at $24.9 billion – one third the value of General Motors, with no profitability to speak of, $500 million turnover. How is this possible?
There are two reasons
- Twitter is a flagship technology company with innovation and future growth ‘built in’, and makes it seem much more part of the future than traditional (even profit making) companies. People look to their future profits and dividends when buying companies, and Twitter seems like it has a lot ahead of it and a lot of potential to be realised
- Brand value is defined by what people think of a brand and are prepared to pay for, over and above it’s logical product or service value compared to competitors. However many (and I mean most) people, including those in the big banks and institutions, confuse this extra value with extra ‘visibility’ in the market – how much people talk about it, interact with it, engage with it. This works with a regular company, enhancing it’s products’ value and adding a premium and competitive edge.For a company whose business is talking and interacting and engaging, like Twitter, this is a mistake – there is nothing left to add value to!
When will people realise this ‘fat bird’ is in fact just puffed up to seem more important than it actually is? Probably when profits consistently fail to materialise at the right levels, and when shareholders patience wears thin – determined by how desperate they are to see Twitter as the ‘next big blue chip’. The worrying thing is of course, that Twitter are not the only company in this position…