We Three Kings of Media Are —

Here are three snapshots of new and old media firm strategies in the wake of yesterday’s posting on EPIC, the futuristic info-net that humbled the New York Times.

Google chief executive Eric Schmidt voiced two overarching themes in a Dec. 1, 2004 interview with Fortune Magazine — serving communities of interest and targeted advertising. “There are an awful lot of communities that have never been served by traditional media,” Schmidt says. Apparently he doesn’t simply mean left-handed cat lovers. Google ad salesforce sells vertically into industries. “We would like customers to say to be able to say, –I’m in this industry, please help me.’,” Schmidt told Fortune, adding, “the real revolution here (is) targeted advertising.”

Yahoo chief financial officer Susan Decker made a December 1, 2004 presentation at Stanford University. I missed remarks but tripped across her slides, some of which speak for themselves. What struck me was her global view of the Internet marketplace. European and Asian Internet users now outnumber those in the U.S. (slide 5) and Asians could be the most numerous netizens by 2007. She mentions personalization (slide 16), the flip side of targeting as seen from the user’s view. Internet penetration in key markets is now upwards 60 percent, says Decker, adding that when cable penetration reached that rate, use as measure in hours-per-week accelerated (slide 8). “Adults 12 to 64 now spend an average of 15 percent of their weekly media consuming hours on the internet yet only three percent of advertising spend is online,” she says in slide 20.

A January 17, 2005, Business Week cover story on Arthur Sulzberger Jr. and The Future of the New York Times, says revenues have been flat for five years at around $3 billion, net income has fallen far below traditional newspaper expectations, and circulation losses inside the New York metropolitan area have been offset by national circulation gains. This national extension of the Times brand, says Business Week author Anthony Bianco, was partly driven by new business chief Janet Robinson, a former teacher who joined the paper in 1983 and worked her way up the ranks through advertising. The piece discusses the quandary facing all print media — whether to charge for content over the Internet. Web veteran John Battelle observes that, so far, the print side of the business has produced most of the revenues that allow the Times (despite the occasional scandal) to remain a synonym for quality journalism. Orville Schell, dean of journalism at UC Berkeley, has the killer quote. “The Roman Empire that was the media is breaking up,” he tells Business Week. “It’ a kind of desegregation of the molecular structure of the media.”

Tom Abate