#MonacoMF10 “Cloudy, with Apps” making content pay

Chris Ahearn – President Media, Thomson Reuters
Eric Hippeau, – CEO of Huffington Post
Scott Dinsdale – EVP Global Digital Operations & New Technology, Sony Music Group (longest title ever)
Sara Ohrvall – Director, R&D, Bonnier
Moderator: Michael J. Wolf – Founder & MD, ACTIVATE

Can I start by saying that Scott looks like Fabio 🙂 And I mean that as a huge compliment.

Scott: Fundamentally what has changed is user experiences. It’s about a tremendous amount of experimentation. Understanding that consumers want great experiences. We forget how innovative the CD was in its time. He’s talking about Spotify – they are starting to see the long tail – in that the great song from 1972 is starting to get play again as it gets rediscovered. He has a friend that wrote a book – “The Flaw of Averages” – which he says is the problem with the media world. We need to be careful how we look at metrics.

Michael: How do you go after the newspaper market?

Eric: Made a decision not to charge users. My question is, ever? Last month they published 3.5 million comments from users – all moderated. The claim is that quality content gathers a high quality audience. We’ve lost trust in congress, in Tiger Woods, in Toyota. The big brands recognize that they need to engage with the high end users that are attracted to the Huffington Post content. The news category that has tried to charge for content (with the exception of WSJ) has had a bad experience. Today they are creating some new social marketing efforts on HuffPo that will allow users to engage with the content in new ways.

Chris: Mentions to Eric that he might not want to take such a strong stand on NEVER paying for it. And accuses him of being a new aggregator and not a news creator.

Eric: HuffPo has 75 professions journalists (hiring 25 more), 2/3 of content is created by HuffPo.

Michael: Sara, explain how you replicated the magazine.

Sara: MagPlus – was designed to re-engineer how the magazine was published. They launched Popular Science on the iPad. It’s not a replication of the content it’s a new way of looking at the data. Don’t call it a replication – she will get offended 🙂 It’s a relaxed curated experience with story telling with a start and end people are willing to pay for the content.

Michael: Can free and premium co-exist?

Eric: Why would I want to charge my best customers and not charge the others? Eric is on the board of a company that runs hotels. The cheaper the room the more amenities you have. But if you go to an expensive hotel you have to pay $20 for Wifi. From his POV when you have modified paywalls, giving 1 or 2 pages for free and then more will cost you.

Sara: If you create a different experience that might live somewhere else people will pay for it.

Fabio/Scott: The 13 – 25 year olds aren’t used to paying for music. The notion to get them to start to pay for certain features. You have to understand what is going to be attractive to your audience.

Chris: Thinks that Free and Premium can co-exist. The idea is to create one level of entry for all content forms.

Eric: Mature products like WSJ when you get to a certain point it starts to cost more to acquire new customers.

Michael: What’s the next wave of businesses that will allow people to consume and pay for content?

Eric: Social commerce is content. Gilt and GroupOn and others hire content creators.

Sara: Things like Spodify will grow. Core competence of media companies is to communicate with a very specific audience.

Michael: 1 minute bottom line. Where is the world going?

Scott: There is a recognition that artists deserve to be paid. There will be huge mass market penetration of music.

Sarah: 4.1 Billion applications will be downloaded. Her advise is to launch and be there. Consumers are willing to pay $2 – $4 for magazines but there isn’t enough content applications out there.

Eric: News wants to be free = you can’t put that genie back in the bottle. It’s a growing business, in part because they’ve been able to attract a younger audience and advertisers will pay for it.

Chris: People will pay for content. If publishers innovate.

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