It’s almost as funny as Jon Stewart’s take on network neutrality.
Fact is, Murdoch has been taken for a rube, and taken for a ride, by a bunch of sharks. MySpace has traffic, but no business model. That would have made it valuable in 1997, but here in 2006 we want to see some "there" there before we plunk good Clevelands (he’s on the $1,000 bill) on something.
And then there’s the PR hit. That cost just keeps rising.
We’re starting to see some confirmation I’m right. Techdirt reports that MySpace’s rates are dirt cheap. Murdoch’s recent attempt to "auction" off "search rights" on the site are also likely to come to naught.
I am not a Murdoch fan, but I’m also no fan of watching old men have their money stolen from them. So in the interests of comity, I’m reprinting some advice I offered last year to Murdoch, free, that might help him turn a profit on this thing yet.
It will cost him (and you) exactly one click to read them:
- Think cellular. Operators have erected high, if artificial barriers to entry. This is to the newspaper industry’s advantage.
- Think in terms of services, of buyers and sellers.
Don’t think in terms of news and audience. Your news effort just builds
a database that can be used in these services.
- Concentrate on the economic process. Blogs are
content. Podcasts are content. They are editorial processes. Think in
terms of serving readers, turning them into your prospects, passing
them on to advertisers.
- Separate out prospects from suspects. Look for ways
to help your current advertisers — car dealers, real estate brokers,
department stores — find the best prospects and gain more permission
from them. This means services that get real prospects to raise their
hands so they can be directed to advertisers, who can build prospect
databases from them.
- Start with big accounts. Only after your effort scales should you move the offering down to smaller advertisers, and eventually build a local eBay.
- Think immediate. Look for ways to help the coming
audience — young, mobile — gain immediate value from immediate
information. Think traffic alerts that route around jams, customized
ideas for what’s happening tonight.
- Immediacy means both space and time. Home sales in
my zip code, arrests in my neighborhood, bloggers and Web sites in my
neighborhood writing about local events, these have meaning. Murders
across town may not.
- Databases are key. Think in terms of databases, and
matching databases, rather than in terms of news or advertising. The
former is dynamic, the latter static. This means everyone’s newspaper
is different, just as Google News can be customized.
- Protect privacy. Earn the trust of your readers by
protecting the personal data they give you as fiercely as you do your
current subscription list. Don’t give out names until readers raise
their hands and say they want to buy something specific. Once they do
that they have enormous value.
- Demand profits. Every service you create must be profitable, on its own, within a given time frame, or you should drop it.
- Buy what works. The people who built what works will
prove more valuable to you than what they built, so don’t buy into the
idea that you can just do what they did and steal their audience.
- Make everyone compete. Always consider replacing the
people you put in charge with the people whose smart operations you
buy. Only a highly Darwinian executive environment will give you the
dynamism you seek.
- Experiment continuously. You’re building a set of local services, not an online newspaper.
- Leave the current staff alone. Let the newspaper
people explore mass customization of their current product, but keep
them out of everything else. They’re too wedded to the past to be