March 4th, 2012 | 4 MIN READ

Can Media Companies Get Their Mojo Back?

Written by David Chiu

David is Ecommerce Industry Strategist at Elastic Path. David is a veteran internet commerce and marketing specialist, with fifteen years of experience delivering business solutions to Fortune 500 companies. Prior to joining Elastic Path, David was Director of Product Management at a global ecommerce software company and an award-winning information architect and designer for prominent interactive marketing agencies including Publicis Modem and MacLaren McCann, where he was a senior creative responsible for the online positioning of key consumer brands including Johnson & Johnson, Nestle, RBC Financial and Rogers Communications. He is a graduate of the University of Guelph, with a BA in Information Systems and Human Behavior.

Elastic Path recently hosted a webinar series focused on digital commerce. Part two, entitled A Look Inside Tomorrow's Digital Commerce Platform, features Forrester Research Senior Analyst Peter Sheldon, and is now available for viewing. Don’t let its technical title throw you off – there’s plenty of juicy content for the average consumer, as well as for companies outside of media and publishing.

Peter echoes the sentiments of his colleague James McQuivey in our last webinar, Enterprise Strategies for Capitalizing on 2012 Digital Disruption Trends, in that the adoption of new devices and platforms have far surpassed predictions. It’s an exciting time for consumers, and a challenging one for media and publishing companies that must deliver consistent customer experiences to all of these touchpoints. Simply having desktop and mobile sites is no longer sufficient. In the Age of the Customer, as Peter puts it, consumers and their heightened expectations are firmly in control.

Is anyone getting it right?

The webinar cites several examples of companies that are overcoming technical hurdles in order to deliver their content experiences across different devices:

· USA Today built an API for partners and a developer network to disseminate their content.
· Hoovers created an API that enabled and Siebel to integrate Hoovers content into their own platforms.
· Best Buy and Citibank partnered to create an iOS app that used the Best Buy API to provide a way for customers to redeem loyalty points for merchandise.

But even with these technical complexities slowly being ironed out, media companies in particular face one obstacle that threatens the profitable and scalable delivery of their content across multiple platforms.

App stores, not always the friendliest kids on the block

While I love racking up 99 cent purchases on app stores, they also act as walled gardens that create huge headaches for content distributors. By owning the “last mile” to the customer and segregating them from media companies, they make it exceedingly difficult for these enterprises to build direct digital relationships with consumers.

It can become quite inconvenient for customers to enjoy a consistent ownership experience across multiple devices and platforms. So while USA Today may be doing a great job at disseminating content, their actual subscription offerings are highly fragmented due to restrictions imposed on them by individual app stores. You can’t just buy one subscription to use across all of your devices.

To add insult to injury, most app platforms also take a 30% revenue share from content sold within their walled gardens. Even worse, many also retain the all-important customer data and provide limited access to subscriber information and analytics.

Will HTML5 be the kryptonite?

In order to bypass these restrictions and covenants, some media companies turn to HTML5 as a technology solution. Using this standard, content is consumed through a browser rather than a native application, and in the webinar, Peter examines some of the pros and cons of this approach.

A new kind of technology platform

Finally, Peter dives into the unique features and services that companies interested in digital commerce must look out for when evaluating technology solutions:

· Digital cross-selling and bundling
· Asset protection
· Subscription management
· Entitlements and authentication
· Globalization support
· Alternative distribution models
· Open commerce APIs

He singles out entitlements as a particularly important capability. This boils down to how an enterprise understands who you are, and what content you’re entitled to consume on which devices.

More Questions Answered

The action continues in the lively Q&A that follows Peter’s presentation, where we were able to pepper him with some of the burning questions that often come up conversations about digital disruption:

· What are some of the limitations of traditional ecommerce platforms that were originally designed for retail?
· What are some of the technical hurdles faced by companies that want to be disruptive?
· What do business models of the future look like, beyond selling content and ads?
· Who are going to be big winners and big losers as this digital disruption trend progresses?
· Are there any safe bets for digital enterprises?
· Will some industries as we know them disappear altogether?
· Will the economy stall digital innovation or encourage this wave of disruption?
· Who is going to lead the charge geographically?
· What role does social media play in digital disruption?

For the answers to these and more, we invite you to watch the webinar today and learn about the strategies that enterprises need to deploy in order to survive and thrive in the face of digital disruption.

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