Friday, April 26, 2013

A few words on the future of Talking New Media

This website was launched over three years ago as a way to keep myself informed on changes in the digital publishing landscape. Along the way I've been very proud of the fact that I've been able to give good, important information about first mobile publishing, and following the launch of the iPad in April 2010, tablet publishing.

At first this site, like most other new trade industry sites, had a very small readership. But each year the readership has doubled to the point where TNM reaches 50,000 readers in over 110 countries (over 100K readers in its lifetime).

But TNM wasn't designed to be a full time venture. Serving the media business may be fun (believe it or not) but it's hardly a good business. Look at any of the trade industry magazines or websites, they do not survive by selling advertising to vendors or through their paid subscriptions but by pushing more and more events at their readers – a practice that, frankly, is getting out of hand.

The reasons for publishing TNM were: 1) keep myself informed of developments in the digital media field; 2) keep busy before accepting another position as a publisher or other executive at media firm; or 3) publish TNM as a way to launch my own publishing company, something many loyal TNM readers have encouraged me to do.

A sign that this site wasn't meant to last long is the fact that it is hosted on Google's Blogger platform. Blogger is easy and cheap – sort of like those replica editions I rail about.

But Google has been a world of hurt from the beginning. Shortly after launching this site I was notified that my AdSense account was being closed. The notice came shortly after writing something, long forgotten by me, critical of Google. No amount of investigation on my part could determine Google's rationale for the action, I thought it was slimy and petty.

Lately I've found that Google Analytics is wildly inaccurate and vastly underestimating TNM's actual traffic. Those readership numbers above come from Google Analytics only because I strongly believe you should be quoting actual numbers reported, not what you really think the numbers are. I know the numbers are wrong because other traffic reports provided by Google conflict what Google Analytics says.

But ultimately the reason TNM has stayed on the Blogger platform is because in three years I have failed to find the right template or theme that I preferred to use on another publishing platform, or even on Blogger. So little has changed at TNM since its launch in 2010.

Well, it is time for some changes.

First, over the next few months TNM will transition off the Blogger platform. You will be able to track that progress by viewing the progress I make on a new website just launched called TNM Digital Media (more on that in a minute). The new TNM won't be found at that site, but will use the same platform as TNMDM, WordPress.

The new TNM will probably be publishing under a new name. This is usually death for a media property, but the name Talking New Media is a strange name for some readers anyway. The phrase "talking XXX" derives from the folk music days when a song would be mostly spoken and would involve something topical, like Phil Ochs's Talking Vietnam Blues or Bob Dylan's Talkin' New York.

New Media involves all sorts of digital media platforms including websites, e-newsletters and the like, but you'll rarely see TNM talk about those subjects anymore. Instead the emphasis lately has been on digital media that can be read on tablets.

So TNM will stop the pretense of being all about "New Media" and once the new website is launched will be completely about tablet publishing.

It's a minor change of positioning as TNM has always been about newspapers, magazines and book publishing – it still will be, but only as regards the tablet platform. It's still a bad business model, but at least it will better reflect what the site is about. The "TNM" will probably survive is some form as it has taken on a life of its own – it's why the MPA remains the MPA despite the fact that the association is no longer called the Magazine Publisher's Association.

There will be other changes coming, as well, and you will see those revolve around TNM Digital Media, the name that will be used as the umbrella under which these will be launched. Some of these new ventures are well on their way to fruition, others are only in the discussion stages.

So while I'm still open to being a publisher somewhere, or to take some VC's money to launch a new publishing company, or even to get that dream call from Apple or some other platform owner searching for a strong publishing advocate inside their company, it is increasingly likely that none of those three things will ever happen. So the future will be all about TNM Digital Media. Stay tuned.


Marie Griffin said...

I wish you the best in your new endeavor--and I hope you make a lot of money doing what you love. You've been very generous to the industry, carving out a niche no one else was covering with such depth, including the trade media on the media. (But some people have been trying, LOL.)
I'm glad TNM will continue, regardless of what you call it.
With best wishes,

Andrew McHarg said...

I've only just begun reading TNM, but I think that focusing on tablet publishing is a good way to go. So good luck with that, I look forward to reading.

rosemary breen said...


Im only just getting to know you and TNM and I like what I read. So, Im glad that this is not goodbye.

All the best

Rosemary Breen

Aaron Bradley said...

I applaud your efforts to move off of a free blogging platform to a place where you can be confident of a lifetime presence for your content, manipulate the site environment to your liking, and get better insights into your audience behavior by dint of improved analytics.

At least by waiting this long to make the transition you were able to avail yourself of a WordPress environment where robust responsive design themes like the one you selected have come of age! :)

(By the way I have no idea what other "traffic reports" are severely at odds with Google Analytics, but these data are next to impossible to reconcile when you are on somebody else's publishing platform. Speaking as something that's been steeped daily in analytics for the past decade, Google Analytics is as solid as any analytics platform out there, and there will always be discrepancies between different analytics providers.)

While I'll miss the diversity of content that I've come to so much appreciate on Talking New Media, I'm heartened that you'll continue to write about tablet publishing. You provide a unique and extremely valuable perspective on digital publishing, particularly as it pertains to legacy publishers: thanks!