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Op-Ed: Technology Is Not Enough – What Marketers Can Learn from ‘The Daily’

As is the n0rm, Huge marketing strategist lead Josh Seifert returns with his monthly submission, this time veering from politics to the much-publicized death of News Corp’s iPad-only trade, The Daily. Here, Seifert offers more of a lesson for marketers instead of a lament, but why put words in his mouth. Take it away, sir.

What’s left to say about The Daily? As everyone knows by now, News Corp. announced plans to shut down its iPad newspaper this week. While media coverage has included speculation about causes like debatable editorial quality and residual fallout from the News Corp. phone-hacking scandal in the U.K., to me the failure is a salutary example of what happens when a company employs technology for technology’s sake. While The Daily may have been an admirable attempt by News Corp. execs to skate to where the puck is going, just because mobile phones and tablet devices are being rapidly adopted by consumers does not mean consumers were ever ready to use them as a replacement for Murdoch newsprint.

What happened to The Daily is saddening because of what it means for employees, but there is a valuable lesson for marketers and companies of all kinds to learn from its failure. When your market collapses, it’s not enough to just move to a new platform. Transitioning old business models to the Web may be good for initial PR, but will do nothing to save your brand in the long run.

Succeeding with digital requires not just changing where and how you do business but also being prepared to do what is right for users and what is appropriate for the new channels and platforms you want to leverage. The Daily applied traditional media tactics to what could have been a revolutionary product. Pay walls, once-daily publishing and single-platform delivery were not good enough to compete in a marketplace full of new products that meet user needs and are properly suited to phones, tablets, laptops and desktops.

True innovators focus their attention on creating experiences that are intuitive and interesting to the end user, regardless of the platform itself. Flipboard and Pulse bring publisher content to life in new ways. Upworthy.com focuses on making liberal-minded news stories go viral. These examples are obviously much smaller and less ambitious than The Daily—and they’re not from traditional news organizations—but their focus on creating appropriate digital experiences is precisely the kind of thinking that could have made The Daily a win for News Corp.

This is as true for advertisers as it is for media organizations. In 2013, marketers would do well to focus on establishing brands in digital in ways users really want to interact with them, rather than continuing to apply old marketing models—like aggravating pre-roll, irrelevant banner advertising, and spammy Facebook updates—to a medium totally unsuited for them.

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