A “premium publisher” is defined by the brand equity that a particular publisher offers. While so much discussion recently surrounds audience, we often forget that there is also an equity exchange between a publishing brand and an advertiser brand that can be very valuable. Properly executed alignment with a premium publisher should pay dividends for a brand beyond simple message reach.

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Pierre Omidyar, Chris Hughes, and Evan Williams all have one thing in common. They admit to hating conflict.

Aversion to conflict is a surprisingly common trait in “disruptive” tech moguls. I’ve always found it ironic that the people who pioneered social technologies that have connected more than a billion people around the world are some of the most un-social people on the planet. These moguls are happy to disrupt the world– from the other side of a screen, preferably via a “platform.” The platform defense is golden for these moguls, a get-out-of-jail-free excuse for taking any responsibility of things written or sold or bartered or happening on their multi-billion dollar properties.

Unfortunately, as these platform owners start fancying themselves as media moguls, they quickly discover that the news business doesn’t quite work that way.

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Whew. That is a long list of distinct uses of news: updates, followups, explanation, diversion, answers, recommendations, connection, instructions, discussion, service, sharing, action. Any of those uses can be mobile. None of them has to be. Isn’t that too much to expect of one site or one app? No wonder readers constantly complain of news sites: “It’s so hard to find what I want.” That’s because we are still trying to cram a big, old newspaper into a bottomless portal on a little, tiny screen and then add all kinds of new functions and different media. We hope it will be appealing and worth the bother because it carries our brand. Perhaps we can use mobile as an excuse to rethink the value of what we offer and as a means to unbundle our services into their useful bits — as Google and Facebook do. If we allow users to declare their own needs at a particular time or in a particular place or because of a particular mood, we can better serve those needs. Perhaps mobile will force us to get better at building profiles of our users as individuals so we can serve each of them better. Mobile can make us reorganize what we offer around our users rather than around our content. Mobile isn’t just another content-delivery mechanism. Don’t try to be mobile first. Be user first. Context over content, that’s the lesson of mobile.

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Another misconception about mobile is that phone and tablet apps will recapture for media companies the control over experience, brand, and business model that the web and its links took from them… Newspaper publishers and TV and radio stations have tripped over themselves to make apps. But… that apps are frequently downloaded but rarely or never used.

Apps… have many limitations. They tend to cut content off from links out to other content and links in from outside recommendations. They are expensive to make. They require marketing to get users to find, download, and use them. Though they provide a clean and controlled environment for ads, apps on the whole have not been embraced by advertisers — mostly because the audience for each app remains small. When they began, apps gave designers and editors better tools to create sleek and responsive pages, but HTML5 and responsive design now make mobile web sites more appealing. On the whole, I believe making apps has proven to be a distraction for many news companies.

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Facebook, which is a weave of news encompassing both the self and the world, has become, for many, a de facto operating system on the web. And many of the people who aren’t busy on Facebook are up for grabs on the web but locked up on various messaging apps. What used to be called the audience is disappearing into apps, messaging and user-generated content. Media companies in search of significant traffic have to find a way into that stream.

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The Future of Branding

Imagining the Future of Branding In previous essays, I wrote about possible futures of social networking and media, in a near future so near that it could be the present itself. I used a 2×2 matrix with likely/ unlikely scenarios on the X-axis and negative/...

The Future of Media

Imagining the Future of Media Last week, I wrote about possible futures of social networking, in a near future so near that it could be the present itself. I used a 2×2 matrix with likely/ unlikely scenarios on the X-axis and negative/ positive scenarios on the...