The boom in the viral-friendly packaging of news stories — aping BuzzFeed, Upworthy, and their peers — will cease to be a profitable approach as a few players lap the field. Publishers will have to differentiate by catering a product to their audience: more and better research, more thoughtful content strategy, and more experimentation and progress in the CMS space. This will manifest itself in at least the following three ways:
- The end of the print-vs.-app and HTML5-vs.-native debates. The correct answer is All of the Above. Content strategies that work in concert with their mediums will be ascendent. Writers need to find readers wherever they are, and as more media is produced on mobile devices and the process of consumption begins to look more and more like creation (see: Instagram, Twitter, Medium), this will become obvious.
- A new analytics startup will come out of nowhere to challenge the established players. We’ve had little progress in this area since Measure Map and Urchin were sold to Google. Publications with wildly different goals and audiences are looking at the exact same analytics views. Mobile analytic systems are basically web metaphors mapped to smaller screens. Neither of these things make sense and there’s a huge opportunity here — every publisher wants better tools and stats.
- Many more web and app startups. Successful properties like The Awl, The Classical, and The Magazine will encourage more and more writers to go out on their own, and there will be a new ecosystem of proofreaders, developers, and designers who support editorial work at a much more granular level. This is the global newsroom we always imagined the Internet would give us.
I would say we’re at two percent of the Internet’s potential when it comes to a true meritocracy around the flow (and financial success) of the most valuable and quality work. If all of the above happen in the next few years, we’ll be at three percent.