Don’t copy-paste e-commerce tactics. Here’s why #mediaproducts
“News products are similar to e-commerce websites. An article can be likened to a SKU, and a section to a product category. Thus, a section editor is a category manager. The role of product management is to optimize the website’s flow.”Excerpt from a conversion
Today, digital media products are heavily influenced by the tools and techniques developed for e-commerce, because e-commerce was one of the first financial successes on the Internet.
- They pioneered many digital marketing techniques, user experience paradigms, algorithms, and Internet plumbing infrastructure (AWS), which other industries such as media and news adopted later.
- Moreover, many of the product leaders at news and media products today first honed their skills at e-commerce companies.
However, not all strategies perfected by the e-commerce industry are effective for media.
Jeff Bezos famously said that Amazon would focus on improving product selection, lowering prices, and faster delivery even decades later.For example, Marvel’s or Game of Thrones’ success is determined by whether people watch their videos and, more importantly, how invested they are in the respective universe.
In e-commerce, effective marketing techniques involve providing detailed information about the product. This helps create demand for the product.
Every time you publish a compelling story, you are essentially seeking to reserve 10-minutes in your readers’ calendar.
In e-commerce, the transaction ends with purchase. Media, such as movies, songs, games, news, entertainment parks, and sports, needs to be purchased and consumed. Hence,
Most e-commerce products are not subject to expiration. However, some perishable items, such as milk, fruit, and medicine, have a known expiration date. News, on the other hand, is constantly evolving and requires editorial intervention to determine if it has become outdated.
A teapot is a teapot – it cannot be bought in halves. However,For instance, cricket fans may spend hours watching a live match, whereas casual viewers may be content with 15-minute highlights.
For example, the essence of a book can be consumed in its entirety with a Hardcover, as an audiobook, as a kindle eBook, as a summary video on YouTube, or as notes on Blinkist, or as a talk by the author. The same is true for a podcast, a research report, or an investigative piece of journalism.
Yet, early digital media products adopted principles from e-commerce.
There was limited need to invent when the Internet became prevalent, as. In contrast, most e-commerce businesses had to invent their way out, as they did not transition from offline retail to online retail.
Additionally, most early digital media businesses, such as news sites and Blogger.com, and YouTube, relied on the advertisement or attention economy. Each click generated a new page view and ad impression. Click-throughs and website navigation became more important than making it easy for audiences to read.
E-commerce sites like Amazon often suggest related items, assuming the customer has a need for them. For instance, if you purchase gardening tools, you may be presented with seeds. Similarly, YouTube’s recommendation algorithms can– spaces where people are only exposed to ideas that match their existing beliefs.
: Below are two screenshots: one from Amazon and another from a news site. Both sites offer a shopping experience. The user is presented with the widest selection of inventory/stories, laid out one below the other, and must click to another page to view more.
Professor Damon Kiesow tweeted how this UX is bad for journalism’s civic role in a recent tweet thread.
What happens when you think from first principles
In contrast, the print newspaper and magazine was a reading interface. One could quickly glance at an entire print newspaper in two minutes or read through it in twenty minutes. All the stories were readily available to read, segmented by typography, size, and placement. Charts, visuals, quotes, and cartoons were stitched together into a seamless page for the day. Let’s call this concept “composability”.
The New York Times website is among the few that have achieved this concept well. Articles, charts, and live blogs fit together as if it were a newspaper.The NYT homepage continues to live up to its original slogan – “All the News That’s Fit to Print.”