Legacy and New Media, The War; Win the Metrics Game!

Scientific analysis dictates that we need an accurate statement of the problem. Solutions follow. The problem is complex, so please excuse the long statement. This is a friend of friends white paper from NewCo! Please share.

  • Logic defines one cause and effect;
  • Sysgic defines many to hundreds of logical causes and effects of a complex, simultaneous system

Dear Ms./Mr. <Publisher>,

Congratulations on keeping your publication profitable. It’s not an easy win.

Let’s change the measure of content interaction!

The Perception Problem

Has New Media won the war of thoughts over legacy media? Newspapers and consumer pubs have followed the siren song of buzz media, SEO, citizenship journalism, social publishing, and journabots… which dilutes the core proposition of good writing. B2B publishers have given up on advertising as a long term source of revenues; and entrenched into leadgen, event management, CPE, and content publishing services.

Is the public correct? Will old-man-time turn publishers into dinosaurs?

Who is New Media?

Three New Media groups dominate conversations:

  1. Core new media includes Google, Facebook, and Linkedin/Microsoft. They now control the dialog with agencies and marketers for algorithmic advertising; and are quickly attacking leadgen, exhibitions, CPE, and content publishing with innovative machine intelligence.
  2. Digital only buzz makers include Cnet, Huffington Post, Techcrunch, Yahoo, Vox Media, Politico, Business Insider, … They have also diversified into events; and soon into content publishing and other services. Local TV channels have joined the digital fray with live video clips. But, they also lack the millions required to keep up with changes.
  3. Emerging gateways for news include Apple News, Google News, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, Flipboard, Tumblr, Medium, chatbots… Although these paths appear to create new opportunities for content; in reality, success creates more competitors for mindshare among buyers.

Saddled with the costs of paper, printing, and distribution, the level-playing-field of digital points to more dilution and slow death. That’s the public perception that can’t be argued.

What’s Wrong?

Here’s the editorial view, heard on Facebook and Medium, everyday:

“We have better journalists, culture of credible writing, and produce thoughtful content that matches reader needs.”

Is this true? We believe it is.

Do the metrics provide proof? Publishers have lost the metrics game.

False security

  • Comscore claims high engagements for media. So do publisher web logs. Both overcount the rise of mobile devices by 2.4 times on average. Add another 50% for cookie munchers. Has this normal become the acceptable truth?
  • 1,000 monthly stories from Vogue, Cosmopolitan, NYT, and others, at 10x legacy rates, create view rates that seem attractive; but fail to impress the digital buyers. Low clicks multiplied by high story count equals high digital metrics, but does it show user engagement to buyers?
  • Revenues from content publishing provide false sense of long term stability. Publishers need to sustain their core circulation that enables CP and other revenues.
  • Publishers incur higher digital costs while losing digital revenue share… which exerts negative pressure on legacy prices.
  • For publishing groups, digital acquisitions boost financial metrics, but only for a few years. The law of finance dictates that low ROI cannot fund larger and larger purchases of digital assets without external capital inflow.

Hit, view, MAU, UU, DAU, like, comment, share, post, retweet, KPI, moment … new media dictates every measure of user engagement.

  • Like, share buttons litter publisher page. Yet, publishers have less than 0.5% likes on any story… a rate that can be easily computed by agencies and marketers.
  • Low comment rates, dominated by spammers and backlink seekers… further support the low engagement conclusions of buyers.
  • Each feature spotlights negative proof against claims of engaged users touted by publisher reps. As a result, media continues to lose credibility with buyers… not just revenues.

Mobile downloads: Comforted by rising mobile referrals from social and SEO, publishers ignore or are not aware of the low download rates, negative reviews, low rate of updates, and low app usage rates… another slap on engagement credibility.

Professor Jarvis says, “New media has the relevant data about user engagement; they share with buyers, but not publishers.”

  • New media brings more user interactions inside their “garden walls” via AMP, live video, instant articles, Allo, chatbots… where they hide useful data from publishers.
  • New media become less dependable as a predictable source of user traffic; and impedes revenues from all publisher sources.
Like is social engagement; biased metric for content.

BPA audit and high paper costs had protected legacy publishers from competition. With digital, publishers cannot just follow the digital pitch; publishers need to show proof through new metrics that your content is still the preferred read.

What’s Still Working?

The credibility of brands persists among readers.

  1. Americans still spend $20 billion for paper subscriptions every year. The cup is still half full.
  2. Ms. Polgreen, Editorial Director for NYT, says, “Digital subscriptions have emerged as a credible source of revenues.”
  3. Millions of ‘likes’ for Vogue, Cosmopolitan, NYT … on social media, imply that media still retains brand value. Even if the likes have been purchased, readers still vote with their likes.
  4. Researchers still reference legacy media. Other than tech media, users are more likely to share content from legacy brands to make their point. Just like for tech publishing, this trend may not persist if publishers don’t take action.

Although mindshare among buyers has dropped, legacy media still has the trust of readers. We need to leverage that advantage and change the playing field.

How to Make Money from Digital?

An engaging game earns money from in-app purchases. Hundreds of games have a few million users; and users buy digital, virtual, and real goods with regularity. The total in-app market exceeds $40 billion, larger than the value of all subscriptions.

The game teams are often smaller than a typical publishing team… without the experience and insight from years of servicing a community.

How do we change the culture from legacy to digital:

  1. The content change may be overblown. A thousand stories per month is just too much dilution of quality.
  2. The layout changes may be overthought. Screen space on mobile, Apple preference, and user demand for consistency … limits creative choices. KIS.
  3. With few layout choices, the delivery vehicle with services that transform content to uses … becomes the game changer.
  4. Most importantly, capture the unique metrics that allow you to improve your content; quantify and prove your value to readers, marketers, and buyers.

As with games, the choice to monetize is varied and substantial. Be patient. Game publishers have learned that the cost to test a monetization method can be very low. Hook your users, first.

Change the metrics game! Can AI bots engage readers?

What’s Next?

If this sysgic analysis has correctly stated the core of the media problem, then:

  1. Commit to deep understanding of your readers. Define the metrics with proof for the next wave of media innovations.
  2. Play the gateway game: understand the gateway challenge; bypass the gateways; and become the mindshare leader and digital gateway for your readers.
  3. Expand your share of readers; only then, can you grow your share of revenues … from sources as varied as news itself.
  4. Like this post on any platform. Provide your feedback. Contact NewCo.
  5. For private chats, request Darhsiung as friend at Facebook or at LinkedIn, and send messages.

Thank you in advance for providing your valued feedback.

Sincerely, Dash Chang, NewCo Co-Founder


Darhsiung Chang:

  • Sysgic methods at the crossroad of AI deep learning, econometrics, biotech, & public policies. Inventor of spreadsheets, math behind pagerank …
  • Logic defines one cause and effect; sysgic defines many to hundreds of logical causes and effects of a complex, simultaneous system
Like what you read? Give Darhsiung Chang a round of applause.

From a quick cheer to a standing ovation, clap to show how much you enjoyed this story.