Four Obstacles Digital Media Still Faces

Digital Media is still in its infancy. (There, got that out of the way).  With the explosion of instant mass-communications of Twitter, online presence of Facebook, and personal sounding board of blogs — where did the days of AOL dial-up Internet go?  Web and Mobile are the new Brick and Mortar. And businesses are frantically shifting strategies like the ‘cool kid’ who showed up to a Toga party wearing his Halloween costume. There are 4 big obstacles that digital media still have to get over.

1. Paid vs. Free Content

Newsflash: there is a lot of data on the Internet. In the minute its taken you to read this blog post: 28,125 posts have been added to WordPress or Tumblr-powered blogs.  Almost all of that content is free too – not behind paywalls. So how do you monetize your content? Google Adsense? Paywalls? Sponsorships?

Pando Daily, a technology start-ups blog, released its first eBook: Your Definitive Guide to Facebook’s IPO. For $3.99 you get the Kindle edition book, that is no slouch at 74 pages long. Packed with exclusive essays by journalists that know Facebook best, this eBook gives you in-depth knowledge and a great timeline of the earlier days of the company. I am fascinated by the idea of near real-time eBooks around important or controversial topics.

I asked Pando Daily’s Founder Sarah Lacy how she sees eBooks playing a role in differentiating Pando Daily for its competitors:

Besides additional revenue, how do you see eBooks on current news helping differentiate Pando Daily from its competitors? 

“In addition to the brand uplift we get from them (PandoDaily was mentioned on all sorts of national press from the FB book) it’s tremendous for employee recruitment and retention. We want to build a paradise for great tech writers at PandoDaily. We want to give them a good salary, a huge platform to speak to influencers, and the ability to focus on doing great work, not writing six stories a day.
“We don’t focus on volume or page views, just quality. Those kinds of writers like to dig into big stories and write in-depth pieces from time-to-time. It’s a cool way for us to keep the nimbleness of a blog, and allow our reporters (including me!) to scratch that itch at the same time.
“It’s still very experimental and I hope that readers pick up our ebooks and let us know how they like them.”

2. Measuring Share Metrics

If sharing is caring, then we’re a lot better people than we get credit for.  But the numbers don’t lie.

  • There are 2.7 billion likes/comments on Facebook per day.
  • Twitter posts north of 190 million tweets per day.
  • YouTube sees 1 hour of video uploaded per second.
  • The average mobile users sends 35 text messages a day.
  • Tumblr and WordPress combined see 28,125 new posts a minute.

I asked Gini Dietrich, CEO of Arment Dietrich and owner of SpinSucks blog how they track and measure the metrics of their marketing campaigns.

Measurement is a fun word in the digital space – how do you use metrics to better track and highlight successful campaigns for clients? 

“We use three things for clients: Increased revenues, improved margins, or a shortened sales cycle. The metrics we track depend on the business. For instance, we know for one client there are three ways people buy from them (phone call, request for information, or a quote request) so everything we do drives people to one of those three activities. Last year, the marketing program generated $2.2MM for that client.”

3. The Holy Grail: Going Viral

The reports show that a share on Facebook has a shelf life of 3 hours. And think about the last 8 meme’s you shared — can you remember all of them? The answer is most likely no, because there were 3 new ones today. A question you might be able to answer is do you remember the last great marketing video you saw that went viral? Dollar Shave Club anyone? We live in a digital world of instant gratification, consumption and forgetfulness. So how do you scale the immediacy and viral nature of social media distribution? Is ‘going viral’ something you can create a to-do list to repeat?

I asked Shelly Kramer of V3 Integrated Marketing how do they engage consumers, friends, fans and followers around their content.

Going ‘Viral’ is not a replicable strategy – how do you activate users around your content for V3im?

“Build great networks. In a myriad of different places online. Then write great content or develop great marketing campaigns. Use the networks you’ve built to leverage that content and help give it legs. Then wish for some good luck. Luck always plays a large role in the whole “going viral” equation. Always.”

4. Figuring Out Mobile

There are more iPhones sold per day 380,000 than people born in the World per day 371,000. Even more evident that mobile is where it’s at is that the big money is in the data plans right now, less talking and texting. The mobile web gets 217 new users every minute. So how the heck do you qualify or quantify your digital media goals? Oh, I almost forgot, e-mail is still KING when it comes to web marketing AND is growing like gangbusters on mobile devices.

I asked Kyle Lacy of ExactTarget what are the lowest hanging fruits when it comes to mobile marketing and engagement for brands.

Email opens on smartphones and tablets have increased 80% over the last six months and show no sign of slowing down, how can marketers better serve mobile friendly email marketing messages?

“It is as simple as optimizing email content and design for the mobile environment. Many marketers forget that a consumer’s first screen could be anything from a desktop computer to a mobile phone. Design accordingly.”

What it all means is that the hurdles that digital media faces today are all new territories. The dissemination and consumption patterns of content have changed, drastically. People want and expect free, digest more than they can stomach, while having the attention span better resembling a child, and doing much of it from their smart phones. Trends and patterns are emerging but don’t expect to have it figured out yet. Smile though, that’s part of the fun.