By Walter Sabo
NEW YORK — Daily digital newsletters suggest that there are hundreds of hot new “platforms” and “monetizations” and “disruptors.”
There aren’t. A quick walk from the gourmet water cafes of lower Manhattan or Palo Alto to the food court at Mall of America will clarify the efficacy of many digi-theories. Remember, fiber optics (Lucent!) were ready to go in 1962, as were Picture Phones, but AT&T waited until they depreciated all the copper wire to roll out fiber.
There are at least five new business ideas that are close to the event horizon for profits.
1. Internet Radio. IF Internet radio companies and aggregators such as vTuner, TuneIn, Accuradio, Pandora, Spotify offer original content, the revenue will follow more quickly than they can imagine. HBO, Showtime, USA Networks, AMC, SiriusXM, were all aggregators of content made by other companies and distributed on other platforms. (Stages. Can we call them “stages” rather than “platforms”?) The result was customers chose one “movie”channel. HBO and its competitors had to distinguish themselves with original content such as The Sopranos and Weeds to give customers a reason to subscribe to more than one premium channel.
As internet radio and audio apps grow in popularity their point of success will arrive when they launch their own shows. It’s fun to listen to Radio Monaco for awhile, but that wears off. Ultimately it’s the same songs on all the apps and those songs come with insane, uncontrollable royalty fees. Original content is marketable, own-able, and profitable.
2. Jumpwire Media. Jumpwire Media has built a proven ecological system that organically connects media outlets with social platforms – in other words, they know how to make TV and radio ratings grow by using social media. Jumpwire Media sells tickets and product. Direct cause and effect. Proven. I’ve seen a lot of wacky social media “answers” that aren’t. Most of the real jokers work in-house at large media companies.
Jumpwire has proven what they claim at radio stations like WBLS. Their system works on all social platforms — Twitter, YouTube, Facebook etc. But here’s the deal, as a managing executive it is your job to personally review company offerings like Jumpwire.com. If you send these “vendors” —how about geniuses—to the I.T. Department you are sending them to doom. Do you like selling to the brand or the agency? Then don’t send digital vendors to your equivalent of an agency; the IT department.
Jumpwire Media has increased ticket sales for AMC movie theatres, grown ratings for radio stations, Discovery Networks, BskyB and several other pragmatic and often unpleasant companies that demand results. Their management team is not living in a garage, they are experienced pros who show up on time and can do business.
Review digital vendor offerings yourself and don’t be afraid to ask questions. You won’t appear dumb, all questions make you smart.
3. Tabeo will lead Toys‘R’Us to their best Christmas since 2007. It is shocking that Apple, Samsung and similar companies have not made a kid targeted tablet. Tablets are not electronic gadgets to this audience; they are their paper and pencil. You realize that many public schools no longer teach cursive writing? Didn’t know that? Your in-house IT people are behind on many things and the impact of tablets and iPhones on children UNDER five is just one of them. Although it’s just my opinion, I’d buy the Toys’R’Us stock now.
4. Kickstarter.com is just the start. Kickstarter allows anyone to put money into new companies or projects. For example, the rewards vary from equity in the company, to a credit in an independent movie (go see Radio Unnameable) to a tax deduction. There will be dozens of sites like this because traditional venture funds have no interest in these ventures. The reason traditional venture funds have no interest in these ventures is that the laws and liabilities that govern their funds make the cost of a transaction high as do the Hermes Ties worn by their employees. (I’ve met ONE cool venture investor, Marc Rowen at Apollo and Marc doesn’t wear ties and he’s always right. Freakin’ genius.)
95% of traditional funds make bad start-up investments, so why put your money there? At sites like Kickstarter, the amount of the investment doesn’t matter, the rewards are non-traditional. TRUE incubators have a chance, they don’t need to be sheparded by annoying characters.
These sites will proliferate and be profitable.
5. Companies that learn from TMZ. Many execs are distracted by the content of TMZ.com and fail to learn the lesson. TMZ is a brand that has been extended to radio, TV and a bus tour. The lesson is that none of those products share anything except a logo and an attitude. The TV show is, MUCH slicker than the website. It’s a hit TV show among 18-34 year olds. The bus tour of Hollywood is a….bus tour that visits sites of scandal rather than celebrity homes. The website is super easy to navigate — a great website with an average of 9.7 M uniques a month (source: Compete). Many companies add-on their social media component in a clunky, former Soviet Union kinda way. When you see companies say, “And LIKE us on Facebook…” “Twitter us…” “Here’s what’s trending now …” They just don’t get it. TMZ ties all of that together seamlessly. Companies that discover SSM Seamless Social Media® will thrive in the next three years.
Please don’t Twitter me.
Walter Sabo is the Chairman of Sabo Media, a company that offers executive-on-demand services. He has worked on-site to build out new digital content platforms such as Sirius/XM. His team was the first to discover the marketing clout of web stars, Internet organic video producers. They founded OMMA award winning HITVIEWS. The company placed brands such as CBS, TiVo and Mountain Dew inside UGC. In FM broadcasting he is the leader in the profitable sector of FM Talk and held executive positions at NBC and ABC Radio. He can be reached at Walter@sabomedia.com.