Hamish McKenzie has a thoughtful piece at PandoDaily on the latent demand for “slow media.” By this he means digital books, long form reporting, and careful analysis, as opposed to the unceasing onslaught of crappy blog posts and zillions of shoddy articles that sites churn out to keep their “content” “fresh.”
Rather than lament the decline of literary culture, McKenzie frames the issue in terms of media economics. It’s not that people dislike reading top caliber, longer writing, it’s that no business model yet exists to fund such publishing endeavors. McKenzie discusses start ups that are attempting to create such a business model and explains how an assortment of existing strategies–affiliate links, sponsored content, pay walls, special events and memberships–are grasping for long term success.
Slow Media, on the other hand, has opportunities beyond display ads. It favors deep engagement rather than brief contact with ad meat. It trades on relationships with the audience rather than fleeting touches. It builds affinity rather than habits. So far, we have seen media owners struggle to monetize those differences, and so many instead rely on the mechanics of the now to generate mass as quickly as possible, even as the ad units upon which such an approach is predicated produce diminishing returns. In these early decades of the Internet, the economic disincentives for longform reporting or analysis have been too great. What may emerge, however, are new ways to unlock the power behind that deep engagement and loyalty.