Marc Andreessen had a great piece today that turned one of his most recent “tweet storms” into a full fledged blog post about the future of the news industry. Unlike some others, it’s a really good read. I won’t go into all of it, but there is a specific point that stuck out:
“Market size equals destiny. The big opportunity for the news industry in the next five to 10 years is to increase its market size 100x AND drop prices 10X. Become larger and much more important in the process.”
Mobile is going to be the driver of growth in the news industry. We had a false start with the PC era of the Internet from 1997-2010. With supercomputers in the pockets of billions of people, a lot is about to change. Here’s why:
Everyone will have a supercomputer that is always with them (More audience)
Mobile devices can be carried on the go, similar to the newspaper, except they are always with us. Not only are they always with us, but they have supercomptuers inside of them that allow us to enhance the news. Content can be a great user experience, personalization can be done on the device, and much more. By having a supercomputer that is always with us, readers are going to be more engaged throughout the day with news. While on the subway, bored in a meeting, walking to lunch (you know you do it), and much more. We are never untethered and are already at a point where mobile devices have surpassed PCs when we are just in the first inning . This drives up audience and market size significantly.
Monetization will move beyond the banner and become more print like (Higher CPMs)
Monetizing digital through advertising has been tough in the desktop era. Print dollars turned into digital dimes. Many say that those dimes will turn into pennies in the mobile era. I think it’s the exact opposite – the digital dimes will turn back into mobile dollars. Mobile has required us to rethink user experience from the ground up entirely. We’re moving to streams, which eliminates room for the banner ad. The only way to truly monetize mobile is through advertising that sits in-between the page like a magazine ad or through advertorial like native advertising. It’s advertising that’s symbiotic with the content. Most importantly, we’re seeing it deliver print-like CPMs.
“The AWSification of Publishing” (Lower costs)
Startups heavily flourished when Amazon Web Services and the cloud came along. What would normally cost a ton of money and require a big fundraise, is now accessible to any developer with a bootstrapped budget. Mobile grew this trend heavily as more and more startups came about. News publishers are moving from physical costs like printing presses and physical delivery to being fully digital. Over the past five years startups have paved the way for the news industry to leverage software and the cloud to reduce their costs dramatically. We’re about to see the “AWSification of the Publishing” industry, which means lower costs and higher profits.
Push notifications for breaking and personalized news (Increased engagement)
We already laid the foundation for this with the fact that there is a supercomputer in everybody’s pocket all the time. With push notifications, we can bring loyal readers back to their favorite publications multiple times a day. This increases the visits a publishers sees, meaning that they can get more value from a reader. Not only can push notifications work for breaking news, but they can work for personalized news.
I’m with Marc and equally bullish on the future of the news business. I see the rise of what we always called the new influencer – a publication started from the ground up around a passionate audience. These publishers leveraged open source software like WordPress, 3rd party monetization partners, and digital distribution like SEO and Social to grow a large audience. Look at Moguldom Media, Daily Caller, Raw Story, Art of Manliness, and many more who followed this model. Mobile is going to allow many more publishers to take the same route and create a “100x market.”