The conventions are over, the summer lull can begin – but rest up as things will not cool down news-wise in the fall
Between now and Labor Day there may be a lull that allows trade publishers to once again gain the attention of their industry readers… assuming those readers have not decided it is time for a break and headed off to the beach
So, with both conventions finally, mercifully over, does that mean that the real summer begins, or ends? Can we all go on vacation for four weeks now? (Oh, that’s right, I forgot. We have no federally mandated paid vacation in the States, no wonder so many people are so angry.)
Photo: alone on the beach by Christine Vaufrey used under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic
What do we have to look forward to between now and the start of the fall?
First, we are not out of the earnings season quite yet. Several very interesting earnings reports are scheduled for next week. This week we saw once again the dominance of the big digital players, with both Google and Facebook blowing out their numbers and having their stocks rewarded. Even Twitter and Amazon reported huge gains in revenue.
Traditional media did not fare so well. The NYT, McClatchy, Gannett, New Media, the Guardian and others reported that their same property (or same store, if you will) sales were down… again. In some case, the media company is fighting it, in others they are chalking it up to a transition from advertiser revenue to reader revenue. It’s not working, but you cannot tell them, or their supporters, numbers be damned.
Next week both Time Inc. and tronc report, with both companies similarly assuring their investors that they know what they are doing. But companies have essentially eliminated their publisher positions – in the case of Time Inc. those positions are gone, in the case of tronc the publisher title has been handed to the editors. To me it looks less like strategy and more like cost reduction.
Second, politics won’t take a break between the end of the conventions and Labor Day, but the tech media can now return to their favorite subject, speculating about the next generation of the iPhone.
It may be hard for the tech media to understand, but what Apple does with its smartphone generally is not that interesting anymore. Maybe the new model will prove me wrong, but it doesn’t look like it. Apple moves slowly now. As a Detroiter I am very familiar with this trend, a giant corporation hesitant to move to fast, leaving many of their best interesting ideas on the design floor. (I used to walk through the Renaissance Center where they used to (and may still) display the concept cars that never made it into production and marveled at just how good the cars were that GM could have produced, but chose not to.)
Frankly, it’s time for the tech media to take a break, I think they have been suffering from Apple madness for a while, but when I saw a “Breaking” tweet saying the next version of the iPhone will be released in September (when it always is) I knew something was wrong. What’s next, a breaking story today informing readers that tomorrow is Saturday?
Lastly, the fall will be brutal for those media outlets that have no interest in politics. It has always been the case that when breaking news takes place people stop reading about iPhones or digital publishing and go to the NYT, other websites or social media to find out what is going on.
It used to freak me out when I would see that one week’s traffic was actually below the same week the year before. I am used to seeing traffic reliably go up between 25 and 50 percent every month (when compared to the same month the year before). There might be slight variations, such as when a day or week is filled with big news events, but traffic always went up.
But what to do when it seems like every day is a big news day, and you are supposed to be taking about digital magazine apps or new websites or whatever? This year has been like that, virtually every week.
TNM traffic is still trending up in 2016, but only around 10 percent, the slowest growth in its over six year history. But I’ve stopped freaking out about it.
It is also why TNM began working on a second website, one that covers the intersection of politics and the media. You may have noticed it, maybe not, but it can be found here, PoliMedia.press.
I started playing around with the creation of the site earlier this year. The goal was to create a site that was more consumer oriented. But I didn’t like any of the ideas I came up with. So, then I decided to compromise, create a site that was part consumer (politics) and part trade (the media). The goal was to find an outlet for politics other than TNM.
I know that most trade industry media avoids politics if they can, but the media is bit of a different animal. A trade journal covering the plumbing industry probably finds it easy to avoid the subject, but I’ve how is that possible when covering publishing? Freedom of the press is enshrined in the Constitution, cleared drains are not.
PoliMedia remains in what I like to call a soft launch. I’m still evaluating whether it is a worthwhile experiment. What I’ve learned so far, however, is that it is easier to build traffic with PoliMedia, already there are days and weeks where its traffic surpasses TNM, even though one site is mere months old while the other is over six years old. But the traffic varies far more, as well. On some days, the traffi just from Apple News beats out TNM’s web traffic, and every day Apple News readership for PoliMedia is more than Apple News readership for TNM. Apple News simply isn’t good for B2B, at least in my own experience. But it can be surprisingly good for consumer.
Still, this isn’t a launch announcement. Just an acknowledgement that the experiment is going on.