The effect that Google (specifically Google news), blogging and media news sites will have on traditional journalism has been much debated in the last few years. Yet it's rare that we see a nig media figure willing to go to loggerheads with Google and online culture. That's what made Rupert murdoch's comments in a recent interview so insightful. Read here for some background and great insight..
How does the News brand stack up against Google?
Google has followed the four golden rules of branding. Their offer is credible. Look at how fast they established this and closed down competitors in the process. They're relevant - to both News's current audience, as well as paying advertisers. Google is unique and differentiated, hapless competitors seem unable to compete - at least thus far (lets see what Bing can do)... They've been sustainable so far, but like any brand trying to achieve true iconic status, only time will tell. But by any measure they're off to a sensational start. Their levels of employee engagement and ratio of applicants to available vacancies is a big clue here.
So now let's run the same rule over News.
Alas their offer struggles to be Credible. Sorry Rupert. Readers can find more diverse and timely content on the web (via you know who) and News has no hope of keeping up. Even if there is some level of credibility amongst its low, yet loyal readership base, it's the credibility of the business model that is under serious review - and thus the reason they're furiously working to work out of way to charge per view.
Relevancy- here lies the deepest of issues. Rupert has failed to have his brand remain relevant, or perhaps even more fundamentally relevant to his defined target audience. The obvious catch; who is his defined audience? And we'll need something more than "people who see value in our content to the extent that they're prepared to pay for it". So the task here is to calibrate his brand to remain relevant to his previously defined target audience. This means going much deeper than simply "readers" of his masthead who preferred his publication more than his traditional competitors. Clearly he has a fundamentally different competitive context now...
Unique and Differentiated - wow, this is where things really start getting tough... Channels has changed, delivery mechanisms have changed, content has changed, usage and occasions has changed, expectations have changed. Come to think of it, everything has changed, except of course.. Newspapers. We're back to relevance again...
Sustainability - again time will tell here. I for one do believe NewsCorp will be around for a long time yet. Rupert is no idiot. And he will need his smartest people around him.
Ultimately, how successful his newspaper business is will come down to a combination of the above factors. Meaning; how will they;
- quickly restore credibility,
- define and truly understand their target audience and create (and retain) relevancy
- create an offer for that audience that they then consider to be unique and differentiating
- sustainably deliver (something of) value for their chosen audience.
It's as simple and difficult as that!