Get it un-stuck, make it sexy

Ideas for print-media to make new $ from their online sites, now.

Beyond the ongoing debate over what will eventually happen to newspapers I feel there needs to be some quick pragmatic thinking on what can be done “now.” The quickest changes can be made to print-media’s online sites.

Show me the static content for free. I’ll pay you for the active content.

It’s hard to stomach paying for something after it’s been free. Newspapers flipping the pay-wall switch on their online news sites are bound to annoy and alienate their audiences, yet there are current options to explore without having to invent any new technology or be concerned about future platforms. Future-forward thinking is important, but what can be accomplished in the short term can be just as valuable as seeking to discover the “next thing.”

Print-media has a huge inventory of data: articles, stats, images, etc. I call this “stuck content” as the shelf life of newly posted news or articles falls off a cliff the second day, sometimes by 98%. The problem lies in how to make the “stuck content” valuable for a longer period of time. Sure, I can dig through the archives, but the current search functionalities I’ve seen are far from sexy. I know the sites have gobs of available data; key-word searches aren’t enough.

So, how to un-stick the stuck content and make it active? Offer me something you can’t get anywhere else but online – my behavior and my preferences. Don’t sell my data to marketers, sell it to me! Mix the available content and data with my behavior, let me set a few preferences, and you have a paid model.

Here are five ideas towards creating active content:

1. Statistics: we all love stats, especially when it’s about our own behavior. Show me lots of stats about me; let me compare them to everyone else

2. Suggestion engine: use the stats to offer suggestions, allow me to discover articles through new paths, show me new ways to package the content

3. Categorization: be creative with how articles are linked to each other, align content into new verticals

4. Share the wealth: make it super easy for me to share links and embed branded content on my own site

5. Automation: allow me to create my own concierge that retrieves data for me, even when I’m not on the site

Show me the static content for free. Charge me for active content and the ability to un-stick the content in ways that make sense for me. Would I pay $10/month? Absolutely. $20? $50? Continually make the active content sexier, offer me new ways to access this data and I’ll be a long-term paying customer.