Monday, September 21, 2009

What is a successful online media business?


How do you measure a successful online media property?

By awards?

By pageviews?

By unique users?

By profit margins?

I struggle with this question each day.

Name recognition is valuable, but not if you don't make enough money to survive.

Popularity is deemed essential, but how do you make money from all that attention? (Surely you've got a better idea than banner ads.)

Profit margins are the mark of a successful business, but making a killing on a single customer might not pay the bills.

Luxury goods makers know how to make lots of money from few people. (The ones that don't have enough customers -- some couture fashion houses -- are dying as we speak, margins be damned.)

Electronics manufacturers know how to sell many products to many people, but need tremendous volume to make up for thin margins.

Media outlets know how to create engaging, original content, but must keep up a side business (classifieds, ads, retail products, sports teams, educational-prep services) to fund what's otherwise an unsuccessful business.

Some companies subsidize each method's shortcomings by offering both or several models.

But bloggers measure their success by pageviews.

Can you be successful with a small amount of influential, engaged readers? (Perhaps with a subscription.)

Can you be successful with a large amount of apathetic, fair-weather readers? (Perhaps with those advertisements.)

There is a limit to how many readers you can reach with the kind of content you offer and the monetization scheme you've designed. Isn't there?

A foolproof online business model has not yet been made. It's still the Wild Wild West out there.

Don't forget it.

1 comment:

Lillian said...

Brilliant.