‘We’re Not Any More In The News Business, We Are In The Database Business’

Newspapers have always depended on multiple streams of income to run their companies: they sell the paper to consumers and they sell space inside the paper to advertisers. But this model has stopped working—nay, it’s veritably ground to a halt.

Jeff Mignon argues that there’s a way to save advertising (online, at least) from completely plummeting into that black hole: better data collection.

Before, it was difficult to collect information about customers. It is why we were using a lot of tools based on polls. Today, polls are in competition with real data collection. Why use polls when you can track the habits of each customer one by one, compile and analyze them? Today’s data are much more precise than yesterday’s polling data. Pages are talking to pages. Data are being linked. Devices are starting to talk to each other.

All of a sudden you become somewhere responsible for the quality of the advertising and the quality of the product/service. It is a total paradigm shift. The total nightmare for the media and advertising business.

So, if news organizations still want to finance their operations with advertising dollars, they need to ask themselves : “Are we in the data collection business?” If the answer is no, your chance to survive, with an advertising model, in the medium-to-long term is close to zero. And if advertising revenue dries up, who is going to subsidize the information?

Mignon’s got a point. Instead of bigger or more annoying, just show the right ones to the right people.

What do you think? An idea whose time has come, or easier said than done?