Why Next New Networks needs to get blogging

16 06 2008

There’s one online media company that I know almost as well as Shiny Media, and that’s Next New Networks (NNN). My heart skips a beat each time I get a Google Alert with their name and I religiously devour each word written on the company blog.
This is largely because NNN has quite a lot in common with the company I am a shareholder in, namely Shiny Media. Both have trailblazed an online format that mixes copious amounts of video with traditional blogging that I believe to be the template for the future of many media companies.
The interesting part is that while Shiny has taken a million or so quid in funding, NNN has been invested to the tune of almost $30 million. Even more interesting because Shiny has so far attracted a very impressive range of advertisers including Nokia, Marks and Spencer, Vodafone, Sony, Dyson, LG and many others, while NNN’s blogs and videos seem largely bereft of any advertisers.
Nevertheless this week’s announcement that NNN’s CEO Herb Scannell was stepping down, or rather moving sideways to become chair of the company, came as a bit of surprise. Scannell is of course a huge player in the TV industry with a CV that includes stints at Nickelodeon and MTV. Yet given the tone of the post on the NNN blog it is pretty clear that the company is about to undergo a fairly seismic change of direction.
The key part for me is where he starts talking about community being as important as video. For me this is one of two fundamental errors that NNN has made. Sure their videos are generally pretty good – though I think a bit too MTV for my tastes and seemingly some of gen Y too – but their blogging is awful. If you want to create destination sites then you need to make an effort in delivering compelling text based content with lots of interesting, and dare I say it, viral posts.
Revision 3 gets it as they are spinning off their video shows from a very successful online site Digg. Shiny gets it too as its tech videos are also hosted on TechDigest and Shiny Shiny. Shiny Shiny fans read Susi on the blog and then watch her on video. They connect with her. NNN blogs are half-hearted, anonymous and dull.
One of the big myths about commercial blogging is that it has a ‘low barrier to entry.’ I have always though this is rubbish, Building a successful blog is hugely time consuming and demands an awful lot of commitment on behalf of the writer/company. An injection of cash can help launch a blog but if the content is poor than the readership will soon dwindle. I think NNN needs to focus on building great destination sites and then take another long hard look at its video offering.
Its other major mistake is not commercialising the blogs/videos from day one. It does smack of old media’s rather cocky attitude to new media in that NNN expects sponsors to form a queue to be associated with its great content, when it decides that it will be ok for ads to sully its sites.
The new media world just isn’t like that. Good job NNN has a huge war chest so it can afford to tweak its business plan a little.

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