Sure, some early adopters have not only survived the volatility of the internet. They have scaled and keep on scaling.
The iconic example is the Drudge Report. It had established its presence by breaking The Intern Story, that is, Monica Lewinsky's quasi-sexual relationship with then-U.S. President Bill Clinton.
But many others haven't fared as well.
Gawker, whose MO was to max attention, pushed the envelope too far. One celebrity it flamed with a video tape - Hulk Hogan - pushed back. His lawsuit, funded by venture capitalist Peter Thiel (who also had been pushed too far by Gawker), ended Gawker.
And, some, such as Buzzfeed, seem to be cool. The in crowd is reading it. Social influencers link to it. Digital media startups identify themselves as The Next Level Buzzfeed.
However, what we know is that Buzzfeed is in the now-classic pickle of being able to create lots of attention without producing enough revenue to pass The Success Test. Today, many members of media, establishment and digital, are running with the story that Laurene Powell, widow of Steve Jobs, could be the philanthropist who "saves" Buzzfeed. Here is one bit of coverage from Recode.
That may or may not happen.
What is the takeaway for not only digital media but also all digital communications (including what public relations wizards and social influencers conjure up) is this: Attention, in itself, means less and less.
To be commercially relevant is how, specifically, attention is achieving objectives. Those range from producing revenue and then profits to enhancing the brand, in measurable ways, of an individual, cause, or organization.
Partner at public affairs firm kglobal - Gene Grabowski - presented a brilliant case study of how attention-getting can actually be counterproductive.
In his seminal opinion-editorial, Grabowski describes the additional problems created by lawyer Lisa Bloom. She had been representing alleged sexual predator Harvey Weinstein. The bottom line on that one is that Bloom lacked the background to manage the strategies and tactics associated with publicity. Here you can read Grabowski's analysis.
What is most counterintuitive in digital communications is that how a blog post which received only minor traffic resulted in new business development for a law firm or a sponsored content placement for a social influencer.
That's The First Law of Digital Media.
The Second Law of Digital Media is to not assume that seemingly cool media players are the ones to partner with on projects.
Last year I endured the nightmare of such a supposed cool entity being the middleman on an assignment for a government contractor. Long story short, the invoice was not paid. After I turned over all that to a collection agency it was confirmed that cool doesn't necessarily mean financially solvent.
Reflection: Digital is not a numbers game.
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