Marie Jacobsen Lauvås

Future of journalism
3Marie Jacobsen Lauvås

Marie Jacobsen LauvåsNovember 19, 2014

Future business models of online media

“Digital is as different from print and television as print and television is from each other, and folks are barely starting to understand that”, I heard Henry Blodget, the Editor-In-Chief of Business Insider, says in a discussion with Vox Media and The Times.

The shape of media is changing as users shift from desktop to mobile. Today content providers need to focus on different formats, shorter stories and new monetization models. With the viral consumption of online media I believe we will see a future of new emerging business models among the online media players, and a natural question for many will be: “how can we make sure that we get across with the story we actually want to get across with to the audience?”

Adapting to the digital generation

We live in a viral ‘buzzfeed’ era and sometimes I feel overwhelmed when trying to consume the most relevant content trending my feed. There is always something new and exciting and I never run out of well written curated content. We want to be continuously updated at all time, but sometimes I need to break out to avoid a viral fatigue.

As a writer, social media is an incredible source for distribution and consumption of media, but it is hard to differentiate among all the players. Jim Bankoff, CEO of Vox Media said: “One thing is that you have a new digital generation who prefers to read content driven by brands that are natively digital, written by talents that are natural digital writers.”

I agree that the format and length of stories play an important role because we today want information to be on-demand, on the go and to-the-point. However, I still have some trustworthy homepages (read: free press) that I occasionally return to when I want to read reliable news.

Many media players call this period the golden age for digital journalism, but with a hub of competing players with a constant need to curate new content, I question how companies will continue to build and monetize on their brand?

Brand building in the viral buzzfeed era

Henry Blogdet explains brand as such: “Homepage is more of a stream. Content that you want to consume and engage with instead of randomized content … before people would say: you’ve gotta figure out how to imprison the people on your site, but thing is, it is a terrible idea! Internet is the distribution channel.”

Jim Bankoff explains it this way: “People still go to good homepages because they have affiliated with the brand. If they have discovered content and they like it, they will go to our webpage and then we will get them as our customers … What we find is that marketers want to act like publishers in a way that they need to build in order to brand, they need to tell a story, they need to create a mythology around their product. How do they do that? They are creating content and makes sure that content finds its audience. What do we do? Exactly that. Thus we can now apply the processes that have helped us become a big media company to help marketers as well.”

90% of Norway’s population uses the National broadcast channel on a daily basis. However, the service is dependent on license fees to keep the service free from advertisements. As media companies today become more and more dependent on advertisers, the increasing percentage of marketed content makes me question whether or not I will be able to consume ‘free press’ articles in the future. As Jimmy Maymann from Huffington post predicts 50% of their content will be sponsored content in some time, it becomes vital to dig deeper into the changing role of advertisements.

The changing role of advertising

“There is a huge amount of advertising money out there, and a huge amount of it is going into programmatic. It is a huge advantage for them and it removes a lot of hassle for us, because we are not trying to protect prices that are the old analogue of print prices, thus the model works for us,“ says Henry Blodget from Business Insider.

However, David Carr from the NY Times sees it in a different way: “What buzzfeed does is taking the inefficiency out of the system. And in NY Times we would name that inefficiency ‘profit’.”

According to Mike McCue from Flipboard, marketers buy predominantly one out of two things:

1. Scale and reach, or
2. An initial audience

Content marketing and storytelling is growing. We create content and then target its audience. Mike McCue adds: “ There will be algorithmic curation as well as human curation. People should be able to pick up and share great curated information.”

With the ability to personalize and target audiences media players can now offer more efficient pricing models to advertisers. However, as the pricing models become more effective this will also require more efficient content production and distribution for the publishers, thus media players all over the world are now trying to look at more effective models to monetize on their brand.

The opportunity window

Jimmy Maymann and Mike McCue predicts that the most successful media players will be the ones that are most able to target, repackage and program creative content when the audience is there.

Mike McCue explains: “If you think about the world we are moving to as a network of people they may or may not know that your publication exists. You design an article to be read and consumed by specific audiences and repackaged in a lot of different ways. That applies to your business model as well, because you don’t want people to be dependent on coming to your web page.”

Promising startups aiming to disrupt

Several startups are now focusing on efficiency in terms of storytelling, content marketing, branding, native content, marketing, pricing and distribution. I met some promising new ventures in journalism at the Web SUMMIT and some interesting new business models are:

  • Crowdsourced payment (groupon model) for in-depth articles (rapport.fi, etsuri)
  • Personalized mobile news aggregators (Zycks app, Newsanglr, Dashbook, Etalia, brickflow, lekiosk)
  • Branded social open spaces (shore.li)
  • Crowdsourced and location based news (nunki, storyhunter, newstag)
  • Targeting for reach and scale (newsatme.com, 8bit, feedspy, wordlift, buzzfeed)

David Bauer just visited Trondheim and he has compiled a whole lot of new players at (http://www.davidbauer.ch/2013/10/20/an-unfinished-list-of-ventures-in-journalism-you-should-be-watching-and-why/)

The last few months I have helped to write some stories for the news aggregation site Trondheim Tech, a site compiling regional news within technology and innovation, and I clearly see a need for innovative monetizing models in the field. I believe there are several ways to differentiate and I believe we will see more and more niche media companies emerging in the future. Someone still needs to write the story and someone needs to think outside the box.

What do you think?

Web Summit
3Marie Jacobsen Lauvås

Marie Jacobsen LauvåsNovember 11, 2014

How today’s women empower in the tech community

“Booth babes are strictly prohibited”, I read in the information booklet in advance of our exhibition at one of the worlds biggest web conferences – the Web SUMMIT 2014.

Part of me was surprised that this information explicitly needed to be inked and part of me got a deeper feeling of why it still is important for women to stick together in the tech community.

Peering at the speaker stage in between of all the men blocking my view I could barely get a glimpse of the actress Eva Longloria as she looked at the crowd and spoke: “I can see there are a few women here. There aren’t many women in the tech space, thus you should all be mentors to other women!”

With only 15% female speakers at the conference it reminded me of seeing the TV series Silicon Valley, illustrating the overpopulation of guys in the IT world. And no wonder the guys where amazed by the girls there, because the girls attending were strong and passionate women with guts. And when we met we supported each other by sharing thoughts, network and best practice. I also met a lot of women building products and services for other women, yet there were so few of us.

So, what would it look like if women were in majority?

“In tech we are the minority and it is always the minority that gets the hard time”, software engineer Louise Deason expressed in Wired Magazine 5th of August 2014, referring to the female population in the tech industry.

Maybe this is the reason why one girl, named Sarah Lamb, said she was tired of being the only woman attending technical events in London August 2005. Sarah founded what is called Girl Geek Dinners (GGD), an informal organization that promotes women in the IT industry. She might have been alone at the time, but today – 9 years later – the organization spans more than 24 countries and 80 cities all across the globe!

Girl Geek Dinners

Sarah, as many other girls in the tech industry, had lots of nice male colleagues to discuss techy stuff with. What she did not have was a meeting place where she could discuss geeky tech stuff with girls – where girls were in majority!

With Girl Geek Dinners she decided to challenge the traditional gender balance at informal tech events. She would not exclude men from attending events and she would still like both women and men on the stage. Instead she introduced the traditional dating principle inverted. Any man could attend, but only as a formal invited guest of female attendees. This would ensure that women were never outnumbered at an event.

With the GGD initiative more girls than ever before have joined the tech event space. Apart from the rules of gender balance there is not much that differentiates the concept from any other IT meetup or tech event. Thus there must be something in the “girl power” movement that has drawn women to these meeting places.

The “waterhole”

“Net Girls” is another global organization for women working in IT and infrastructure. It is an informal organization without a website and the purpose is to create a waterhole where no men are allowed. A place where women in tech can support each other and reflect upon challenges in a high tech space.

Emilie Carlsson, Marketing Manager at MediaTek Labs, whom which I met on my plane heading back home, told how the initiative first started: “In the beginning the Net Girls got together to make the environment more secure because the men where hitting on them all the time sending sexist comments. At a conference with 80 people, there was a Ted Talk and I had a talk myself. A question I got was: are you married? You are very pretty, so if not I will marry you. My first thought was: what am I wearing? Something that has encouraged them to say so? This would never have been acceptable to say to a man. And I think it is even harder for younger women, because you don’t know where the limits should lie and how to react”.

Like me, Emilie had also been exhibiting at the Web SUMMIT and she had been busy talking with thousands of people at the MediaTek booth. Still, she had noticed there were no female speakers at the Machine SUMMIT stage this year. There might be something to the “mentor” message. As there are so few women in the tech space it is our job to be visible and speak up. Thus we need to celebrate all the great initiatives and support each other when we do so!

A celebration of the female tech geek!

On 12 November, Girl Geek Dinners in my hometown Trondheim celebrates its one-year anniversary. GGD Trondheim has managed to build a society that one year later has inspired more than 400 girl geeks, which is quite good relative to the size of the city.

As a tech female I have experienced lots of strong and brave women speaking up at conferences and in the innovation space, and the females are growing in numbers year by year. I believe we should celebrate anyone that accomplishes great stuff in the tech community, be it a man or a woman. However, I feel sure that the female communities help build stronger ties and support between women entering the tech space, thus growing stronger day by day. It is all about supporting and encouraging girls when they think tech is fun, and we need more of it – much more!

NTNU Trondheim
3Marie Jacobsen Lauvås

Marie Jacobsen LauvåsSeptember 22, 2014

3 signs your company should hire an ’entrepreneur in residence’

”I WANT YOU TO COME HERE AND MAKE SOME NOISE!” was the message from my recruiter at the NTNU Technology Transfer department, a company working on creating value out of research results and good ideas.

”We see great potential in exploring new recruitment strategies in order to increase the annual spin-off rate from our company. We believe the right way to do this is by hiring risk-willing people like you. Thus we have proposed a new experiment – a one-year employment for you as our entrepreneur in residence”.

Seeing what has triggered NTNU Technology Transfer to hire a total of 4 entrepreneurs in residence (EIRs) over the past year has made me think of 3 signals suggesting an entrepreneur in residence might be valuable to any company!

You are brave enough to think new!

Everyone knows the feeling of ‘falling behind’ from following a problem-solving process built on formulas that used to be successful earlier on, but as Albert Einstein once stated “we can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them”.

NTNU Technology Transfer was extremely brave when hiring their first in-house entrepreneurs with one mission: question and challenge everything! They were willing to listen to new thoughts and challenge how things were being done, thus constantly thriving innovation in the workplace! Now European tech trans organizations start looking towards Norway to explore the new model.

EIRs can embody a range of skillsets, backgrounds and interests, and if you are lucky to find an EIR who truly complements your team, this could add significant value to your company, both by cultivating new ideas and bringing in outside perspectives.

You see unexploited potential outside your company’s core business

Being innovative often require big investments in time, focus and money tied to a high risk. Sometimes great opportunities lie within reach; the only thing missing is someone daring to take the next step.

Karl Klingsheim, the director of NTNU Technology Transfer says: “We need more people who are both able AND willing to create commercial value from our techtrans-projects. Serial entrepreneurs are few and far between, and we try very hard to use them as role models for others while we repeatedly provide them with new, tantalizing business opportunities emerging from unique knowledge and technologies from research at NTNU, St.Olavs Hospital and HiST.”.

If your company is able to find EIRs who is in a phase of life where they are not bound to heavy personal investments then, if the timing is right, they might me more willing to take on the required risk to take ideas to the next level. Thus your company can minimize risk by constraining employment to a limited period, while increasing the chances of success by giving the in-house entrepreneur a time limit to build and execute.

You are overwhelmed with new tools and opportunities

New innovative tools, incubators and communities are developed at a constant high pace and you know it takes time and focus to build new relations and keep up with everything new. As EIRs are used to travel new roads and build connections, they can add value to your company by introducing new tools for business development and bridge the gap between your company’s core business and the startup community.

When NTNU Technology Transfer chose to recruit entrepreneurs from the master program NTNUs School of Entrepreneurship they signalled 3 things:

  • They see high potential for a valuable collaboration with students that master entrepreneurship skills
  • They wish to build strong bonds to young entrepreneurs with their new thoughts and high pulse
  • They are brave enough to listen to new input and let entrepreneurs challenge their core business

If a company like NTNU Technology Transfer, whose pure purpose is to commercialise new research, sees value in ‘new entrepreneurial blood’, then there is certainly a huge potential for similar experiments among other businesses in other sectors as well.

What do you think?