Lumbering giants of the past or the prime innovators of the moment? That was the question moderator and EconSM conference editorial director Elizabeth Osder put to a panel of old media companies representing WSJ and its close relations, as well as Time Inc., Gannett (NYSE: GCI) and Martha Stewart attempted to make the case that, while some collectively conceded to being somewhat lumbering in the past, that's not the case anymore.
-- Not so lumbering: Gordon McLeod, president, The Wall Street Journal Digital Network : The reality is that everybody, the bloggers, was far ahead of us in terms of social media. The key is not screwing up the brand while adapting to the new changes. Jeff Price, president, Time Inc.'s SI Digital: Last year, digital comprised 15 percent of our revenues. We always knew that sports is social conversation and created a Facebook app. Kinsey Wilson, executive editor, USA Today: We got into social media and blogging three years ago. Last year, our site redesign put social media on every page of our site.
-- Where's the value?: McLeod: tagging and keywording has been a bomb on Marketwatch, while allowing commenting has been a natural fit. As the commenters have proved accurate, advertisers like Vanguard and other financial services marketers have warmed to the idea. Packaged goods advertisers have been slow to embrace our social media tools. Price: The big questions: why is the user there and how can you avoid getting in the way of the conversation. Ultimately, it's about authenticity. That's what advertisers value. He pointed to matching Gatorade with high school sports community Takkle, which also provides important local reach as well. Wilson: Advertisers want to be associated with new and innovative, but at the same time, they want the safe and proven.
By David Kaplan