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Content, strategy and creating value in a digital world

Twitter is rubbish, say teens (kind of)

Much media excitement today about a report published by Morgan Stanley into how teenagers consume media. It’s already hit the front page of the FT, and guardian.co.uk.

Why?

Well, mainly because it contains a verbatim report written by a 15-year-old intern.

Given the level of interest, you’d think that this was the first time the industry has been offered some cogent insights from a teenager.

Or perhaps they’re giving it so much airtime because he’s apparently sounding the death knell of traditional media.

Either way, one has to wonder at the value of it, given that it is qualitative research from a single viewpoint. Let’s not burn the presses just yet, eh?

That said, there are a couple of interesting insights:

1. Teenagers do not use Twitter
“Most have signed up to the service, but then just leave it as they release [sic] that they are not going to update it.”

This is a fundamental misunderstanding of how Twitter is shaping up.

It’s rapidly emerging as a means of direct broadcasting by celebrities, rather than as a way to update friend networks (which is what Facebook is used for).

This is being driven by the media increasingly quoting celebrity Twitter feeds in lieu of comment (see how Liz Taylor used it to comment on her absence at Jacko’s funeral?).

Very soon teenagers will use Twitter as a means of receiving, not broadcasting information, skipping out the traditional media.

2. Teenagers do not read newspapers because they do not have the time and can’t be bothered to read pages and pages of text
Now these are two very different reasons. And at the risk of sounding a decade older than I am, let me just say “A teenager with no time? I doubt it.”

Nevertheless a not unexpected, but quite depressing outloook for the intelligent press.

Then again, how many of today’s serious newspaper readers were reading pages and pages of text in their teenage years?

I don’t believe that the content is the problem. I think that teenagers are not the core market of these publications. But what old media should be worried about, is how they are to attract today’s teenagers to their content when they become the serious newspaper readers of tomorrow.

Clearly it’s about digital, but perhaps it’s also about presenting curated or aggregated content and comment.

3. Gaming is starting to replace phones as a means of voice and text conversation.
This is interesting, worth watching and bearing this in mind for a couple of clients.

You can read the full report here: http://media.ft.com/cms/c3852b2e-6f9a-11de-bfc5-00144feabdc0.pdf

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Murdoch plans to charge for access to online News Corp titles

Rupert Murdoch has said he plans to charge readers for access to online versions of his newspaper empire, the Guardian reports today.

The Guardian has quoted him as saying “That it is possible to charge for content on the web is obvious from the Wall Street Journal‘s experience”

Whether this is a case of sabre-rattling or real strategy from an ageing emperor remains to be seen, but it’s hard to see why readers of papaers such as The Times or News of the World would be willing to pay for content online when so much similar material is available for free.

It would be interesting to know whether he’s doing this to generate sustainable revenue from the sites, or to drive readers offline to the print versions of his publications.

Ultimately though, it’s a question of content. Sites like the Economist and the Wall Street Journal can charge for online content becuase they offer high quality content and exclusive analysis of a high end industry.

They’re also probably mostly paid for by companies, rather than indivduals. Let’s not forget that the New York Times could’t hack it as a subscription-only site.

Payment models have improved, and the iTunes store, paypal and mobile tech has made it much easier to extract micro-payments from customers.

But in order for broader appeal titles to hold the same appeal for consumers, they’ll have to offer some pretty impressive, unputdownable content.

For The Times, think Clarkson and AA Gill. Are they enough? I doubt it.

And if Murdoch is doing it as a way to boost offline sales, he’s surely sawing off the branch that he is sitting on.

Murdoch said a plan will be thrashed out within 12 months, adding “the current days of the internet will soon be over”

Which makes him sound less like Ceasar and more and more like King Canute. Watch this space…

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