Lesson from MySpace: “Never Stand Still”

MySpace has gone from fast rising social network to a fast falling has been, waiting to be sold by News Corp. In terms of mindshare, it’s already joined the deadpool. Chris Thorpe flagged up this great blog post this morning:

[blackbirdpie url=”http://twitter.com/jaggeree/status/32066764669980672″]

The blogger, John Willshire, is also a member of a band, and he managed to cobble together a new presence for his band, Gamages Model Train Club, by pasting together a number of other services: Tumblr, Soundcloud, iTunes, Facebook, Google Analytics and Feedburner.

Most articles written about the fall of MySpace focus on the lack of focus after News Corp acquired the social network. Rupert Murdoch turned his attention to other areas of his empire, and MySpace simply failed to keep pace with Facebook.

John’s big lesson from MySpace is that digital businesses must never stand still. As he says, MySpcace was never easy to use, which left open the huge opportunity that Facebook exploited. More than that, while MySpace had been improving incrementally before News Corp acquired it, those improvements stopped after it was bought by the Beast.

Don’t launch things small and often, let’s launch things infrequently, but talk about all the changes we make at once.  So don’t talk about anything in between that spoils this, please.  Oh, and we need a major review of what we’re doing with the site, platform, tech, so don’t do anything till that’s complete….

…and so and and so forth.  By trying to sort everything all at once, as old, established companies want to, and as you’d have to do with a newspaper redesign, Myspace stopped evolving.

Lessons for news organisations

When I started in digital journalism, I worked for small organisations, and we ran on shoestring budgets. It wasn’t until I joined the BBC that I worked for a well-resourced operation, and even then the BBC News website had (and still has) a tiny budget compared to BBC TV (but then my former colleagues in radio will say the same thing, and be right).

However, with integration, bringing together the print and digital or broadcast and digital newsrooms, resourcing is improving, but those digital organisations are now being brought into larger, sometimes less nimble, organisational structures. It’s a challenge that only a few news organisations have successfully met.

KPMG: UK readers far less willing to pay for digital content

Normally, I’d just add this link to Delicious, but the data is worth highlighting. KPMG has found that 81% of UK “would go elsewhere for content if a previously free site we use frequently began charging”. Only 19% would be willing to pay in the UK, while globally (the same research looked at consumer behaviour in a range of countries) 43% of consumers are willing to pay for digital content.

However, there are possibilities for publishers to pay for content that “almost three quarters of  UK consumers are willing to receive online ads in exchange lower content costs”. They are also more willing to have data collected if it would result in lower content costs. “48 percent of UK consumers would be willing to accept profile tracking, up from 35 percent in the 2008 survey.” Publishers and marketers need to take care though as 90% of consumers also expressed concern about their privacy and security online. That is high, although a slight reduction in the figures from 18 months ago.

A key finding from the report shows how consumers would like to balance privacy and targeted advertising. Tudor Aw, Head of Technology, KPMG Europe LLP, said:

(UK consumers) do see the value in allowing service providers to have access to the information necessary for more tailored services, but they are only prepared to do this if the risks are controlled and, crucially, if there is some value in it for them.

The research is well worth a look, especially for those whose revenue strategies are tied to advertising, but also for any business looking to deliver better targeted services to their customers through better use of data.

Wired’s iPad App Boasts a New Feature: A Price Cut | Peter Kafka | MediaMemo | AllThingsD

Kevin: Wired's iPad app will see a price cut for its second issue, from $4.99 to $3.99. The first issue was seen as a huge success, selling 95,000 copies, despite a lot of criticism about how it looks, works and how large it is (weighing in at 500MB) Chris Anderson, the editor of Wired and the author of Free, said that he prefers a freemium model where some parts of the magazine would be free with premium elements that people could buy. However, as Peter Kafka takes pains to highlight, Anderson has no control over pricing.