What Could Save Media Businesses

So what will save the media industry? John Byrne's assessment of the issues are dead on

1) Print advertising will never come back. There are just too many options for advertisers today and too much pressure on rates. Sadly, success in print will be measured in single-digit declines, forever. 2) Online advertising will never offset those declines nor save print. There’s far too much competition online and far too much available inventory; and 3) Users will not pay for content, unless they’re convinced it has immediate and tangible value.
I do see a couple of plausible game changers in the not so distant future

  • Tablet PC's - I do most of my reading on my Blackberry like many other commuters. It's good enough for me, and I actually can find and read more relevant content than I could with any newspaper or magazine. But while a mobile device works well for many users, it doesn't work well for advertisers yet. A Tablet PC could change this if it provides adequate fidelity for rich advertisements, a good user experience, a decent price, long battery life, etc.
  • Shared Search Revenue - I agree with TechCrunch's assessment that 5 clicks free
    won't provide significant revenue to Publishers that participate. It could be a game changer if publishers form networks and force users to pay for clicks to participating sites, but this has risks of alienating users. What Google and Microsoft/Bing are showing is that they are willing to negotiate with Publishers and possibly share search revenue with them. What happens if Google shares X% of search revenue to Publishers that show up in the top Y search results? It probably won't generate significant revenue for Publishers, but it would give another source other than advertising or subscription.
  • Pay for context, not content - Would I pay $3 to download a digital magazine at the airport? Should newspapers charge to access its news and analysis from 6-10am, then make it free afterward? Would I drop cable tv (and its fat costs) in lieu for an online video and news subscription?
So while the media business is falling off a cliff, there still may be a future.

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