#AOPsummit: Media leaders encourage experimentation and openness to failure

Experiment, experiment, experiment – that was the message from the heads of ‘leading media’ at the AOP Digital Publishing Summit this morning.

Google UK’s MD Matt Brittin said publishers can’t afford not to experiment.

Be distinctive … there’s an explosion of choice, it’s a very different world … We don’t know what’s going to happen in the next year, no one knows  … experiment and get feedback. Audiences, readers and advertisers have got more choice than ever before … You think it’s fast now, mobile devices … are going to change the world much more than the last five years. At least we’re in a situation now where we recognise this is the new normal.

… If Fast Flip is Google’s next failure, well great. If you don’t fail then you’re just investing in low risk projects… You need to fail … now everything you do can cost you very very low amounts … if you don’t experiment, you don’t learn.

Tim Brooks, managing director for Guardian News and Media seemed to agree.

We should also be taking more risks, not fewer risks. The danger is that we try to de-risk in this environment, but digital media means you can fail more cheaply – you have to try lots of things because nobody knows which ones will work.

Stephen Miron, CEO for Global Radio, added that every organisation needs to find its own model.

There’s no template solution. We get hung up about ‘look what their doing, lets follow that’ … we need to look at what we individually do well and follow that through.

Mark Wood, UK CEO for Future Publishing added that while the near future for innovation is in mobile, it won’t be at the expense of valued content.

We’re going to see a lot more mobile apps of various descriptions, but the thing I find reassuring is throughout all these changes people still go back to the same sort of content they like to absorb and consume.

Magazines in 50 years … will still be there in some form or another. If everyone keeps hold of that, however it’s delivered, whether it’s through print or on an app is semi-irrelevent as long as you can monetise it. We’ve seen already quite dynamic changes … for example the TechRadar website’s traffic is now way ahead of Cnet in the UK … that shows what you can do with a bit of creativity and by going for a space in the digital market.

During the debate Brittin seemed to hint towards a discussion on rumoured plans for Google to introduce a micropayments system, believed to be called Newspass, by saying that “over time we’ll see the advent of a much bigger range of ways for people to pay for services”. But he quickly killed off any such ideas when questioned about it.

Don’t believe everything you read. It’s true that there has been a lot of speculation about micropayments. I have not got anything to announce. But I hope we can do something to push forward the way people can pay.

He added that it was vital for the user to always be offered choice: “be transparent and give choice, to opt in and out to different levels”, he said.

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