The Filter: Newspapers Still Stink at Digital

This week’s roundup includes the a billion dollar deal, what newspapers don’t get about digital, the death-to-big-media fallacy, a new magazine cartel and some new tools from Tumblr.

Four ways newspapers are failing at digital
Some things change, some don’t. It’s 2012 and newspapers are still messing up in digital. Newsosaur highlights four reasons why newspapers are failing in the digital age: weak digital product portfolios; aging, undiversified audiences; limited revenue opportunities; feeble competitive response. All valid, all real. Newspapers, as we’ve been saying for a decade, need to pull its collective head out of the sand.

Though most publishers are further behind the curve than they ought to be (and think they are), newspapers continue to possess powerful brands, content-creation capabilities, sales relationships and marketing muscle. The first step to getting serious about digital publishing is to develop a strategic commitment to building relevant and remunerative products. Because most profit-pinched newspapers lack the time, money and in-house talent to develop such products, it makes sense for the industry to pool its resources to create a Digital Widget Works to build products to compete with the upstarts. The time to act is now. The contest will only get more intense, with Groupon, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Yelp and a host of wannabes feasting on fresh capital faster than you can spell IPO.

Click here to read the article at Newsosaur.com.

It’s Time to Stop Talking About the Death of Big Media
The era of big media isn’t over. In fact, it’s gotten more interesting in the last several years as the Web has moved from search to social. The fact is media companies are big business and Pando Daily’s Hamish McKenzie is spot on when he argues that the “Internet vs big media” trope is dead, and not “big media” itself.

Let me make this clear: big media – CNN, The New York Times, Hollywood, the major music labels (god, especially the labels) – have fumbled on digital repeatedly. They have failed to grasp how to best use the Internet, not only to engage with the audience, but also to reach new audiences, deliver new content, repackage old content, integrate newsrooms, and whatever the fuck else it is they were supposed to be doing (offer check-ins?) as soon as some geek in a basement invented a Paradigm Shifting Technology. Many of them still don’t get it. But they’re not going to suck forever.

Click here to read the article at Pando Daily.

Tim Armstrong Sells His “Beachfront Property”: Microsoft Buys 800 AOL Patents for $1 Billion
The first of two billion dollar deals this week quietly slipped under the radar because of the second billion dollar deal. This one, however, may actually be more important. One, it gives shareholders back some money (and quiets Starboard, an activist investor). Two, patents have become a key weapon for tech companies. In the on-going battle between Microsoft and Google, this can only help Microsoft. Three, this highlights some of the assets Aol has under its hood, which leads back to point one. Finding valuable patents in today’s tech-driven world can be a boon to a company and most importantly its shareholders.

AOL doesn’t break out which patents it is selling to Microsoft, but observers looking at the portfolio have pointed to important patents in areas like instant messaging and email. AOL will hold on to another 300 patents that it says cover “core and strategic technologies.” The deal also includes the sale of “the stock of an AOL subsidiary” that AOL will book as a loss in order to reduce the taxes on the portfolio sale. AOL won’t tell me what that subsidiary is, so if you’ve got suggestions, I’m happy to hear them. Update: Solved – Microsoft is buying Netscape, or at least the underlying patents for the once-famous browser.

Click here to read the article at All Things D.

A Buffet of Magazines on a Tablet
Magazine publishers have yet to fully tap into the power of the lean-back device, the tablet. But with the introduction of Next Issue, publishers are hoping a Netflix all-you-can-eat strategy can work. Conde Nast, Hearst, News Corp, Time Inc. and Meredith joined forces, a la Hulu, to try to triage a really, really infirm industry. It may be a little too late, especially if the publishers are just porting content onto a tablet instead of tapping into the potential of a tablet. And as of now, Next Issue is only available on Android tablets. The partnering companies have submitted the app to Apple, but there’s no word on when it will go live.

Next Issue is not, of course, the first app to offer digital magazines on a tablet. Most prominent magazines are already available as apps. The beauty of the Next Issue concept, though, is that it puts all the magazines in one place, using a consistent design and a standard set of controls. You don’t have to learn a different app for every publication. That’s the theory, anyway. In reality, the magazines within the Next Issue app vary quite a bit in philosophy and operation.

Click here to read the article at The New York Times.

Tumblr Tests New Tools for Users and Brands
Tumblr has been on the rise for the past couple of years. In fact, the social blogging service released some big numbers: 20 billion posts across 50 million blogs. But one of the things that has yet to happen for the company that’s happened for other social networks is some type of relationship with brands. As the company grows, it will hit a point where it needs to make money (outside of raising capital). Brands can help make that happen. It will be interesting to follow how Tumblr can incorporate brand message without changing the user experience. But it first needs to embrace the corporate side a bit. There’s only so much it can do with gifs of cats.

We didn’t build Tumblr for brands, and about a year and a half in they just started to show up, particularly in the fashion and publishing communities. They were giving us a different perspective on their world. For the last few years we’ve really been looking to them and taking notes, trying to figure out what it is that people have found valuable. And when we see things that may be repeatable, going out and implementing those patterns.

Click here to read the article at AdAge.

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