People use the internet to get only the news they are looking for and nothing else, which presents a challenge for big media companies that have traditionally sold news and advertising in bundled formats (newspapers and broadcast news programs, for example).
But the internet did not kill bundled news, it just changed how those bundles are created. Where editors once selected the contents of news bundles, a modern information consumer use technologies that produce bundles based her choice of sources, topics of interest, interactions with that content, and recommendations from friends.
- RSS readers like Google Reader allow people to subscribe to only certain sites, or specific topics from a site.
- Personalized homepages like My Yahoo are bundles of customized informational widgets that display news in a more visual way than RSS feeds.
- Social networks like Twitter and Facebook constantly stream a bundle of news in the form of text, links, images and sounds shared by friends.
- Tablet apps like Flipboard bundle links being shared within a person’s social network into an interactive magazine.
- Web apps like Paper.li bundle links from social networks in a similar fashion to what Flipboard does for the iPad.
- Mobile apps like My6Sense bundle news based on how you’ve interacted with previous information.
- Human aggregators like Matt Drudge continue to bundle information in a unique way that appeals to a wide audience.
- Hybrid aggregators like memeorandum use human editors to help bundle content for niche audiences that has been selected by an algorithm that considers signals from the blogging ecosystem.
So how/do traditional organizations fit into these new bundles? Should they continue to provide bundled content on web sites? Should they continue to provide advertisers a way to reach the audience of that bundle? These aren’t rhetorical questions. They are real puzzles that have been discussed for years now. I’m still not sure if there are many clear answers.
Here are some important posts about the unbundling of news:
- Dissecting the Media: Trust and Transactions (Sep. 2004)
- The clickthrough’s tyrannical efficiency (Mar. 2006)
- Online newspapers should un-bundle content and bundle business (Mar. 2006)
- The Great Unbundling: Newspapers & the Net (Apr. 2008)
- Surrendering advertising … killing bundling (Jan. 2010)