Is there a case against media innovation?
Product Initiative Blog | 18 October 2022
When the INMA Product Initiative started, we ran a survey that asked what people are working on. The majority of product teams spend their time on existing products. This was reinforced in the Reuters Digital News Report this year, which found that 67% of news leaders said they were iterating and improving existing products, which compares with 32% who are launching new products of extensions.
It’s human nature to look at the next thing, the better thing. I am sure every product person who is reading this has had an executive or board member ask them, “What’s next?” Or, “What new things are you working on?” And it’s not just in media. Or product. Or technology. If you speak with any merchandiser, they will tell you that even with the most successful products on shelves, retailers will always ask: “What new products are you planning next year?”
But this is a problem.
Because new isn’t always better. In fact, it rarely is. In a recent INMA Product Advisory Council meeting, someone said they had heard this: “A second of speed is worth more than any new feature.” It stuck with her. And the numbers back it up. Just look at these numbers that Twipe reported:
So my challenge is this: Is the product team at your media company the right place for innovation?
And when I say innovation, I mean really new things. Things that haven’t been thought of before. Not things that have been “borrowed” from other industries. The areas where I see the most improvements are features that have been borrowed from other products and other industries.
Start-ups are nimble. Tech companies pay a lot for smart product and engineering talent and give them scope to create new things. The news industry, for the most part, is neither nimble nor able to compete for this talent, much less have it work on things that as yet can’t be measured.
It may seem like I’m against innovation. I am not. Well, not entirely. I just think there has been a mantra from Silicon Valley that all innovation is good innovation. And that simply isn’t true. We need to think about deploying our resources wisely for our business.
So for most of you, do you really need to be innovating? Or should you be learning from others and applying insights thoughtfully?
If you’d like to subscribe to my bi-weekly newsletter, INMA members can do so here.