Over my years in the news media industry, I have often been accused of not being a traditional thinker and spending too much time outside the proverbial box of traditional ideas and strategies. I will confess I take this accusation as a badge of honor and must ask, “How are those traditional ideas working for us these days?” That said, I suspect after reading this column, some might suggest I have strayed too far off of the reservation. As I have been writing these audience columns over these past few months, I have focused on many of the traditional aspects of building audience. Bear in mind when I say traditional, this refers to both print and digital components. Like others, my thoughts often go back to the 1990s and the beginning of the impact the internet had on our industry. We certainly missed the internet boat and have been playing catch-up ever since.
In the art of war—and I would add business—winners most always use offensive tactics. Rarely, those constantly playing defense ultimately win. It is far past time our industry cease playing defense and launch an offensive. With this thought in mind, I would suggest we are on the cusp of yet another transformation we ought to get ahead of for many reasons. Most have heard of Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies, but have we paid attention to the underlying technology powering those currencies known as the blockchain? This underlying tool for cryptocurrencies is not only transforming business as we know it; it is being adopted by businesses and consumers alike.
More than 80 million Americans own cryptocurrencies. Many rightfully debate the value of these vehicles. Some believe they are great investments while others believe they are in a massive bubble waiting to pop. Regardless of one’s cryptocurrency belief, one thing is certain: most of those cryptocurrencies represent projects being developed utilizing blockchain technology. The various cryptocurrencies are simply a way to fund these new, and in some cases, game-changing projects. Just like the stock market, some will do well while others will flounder. There is no denying blockchain technology is here to stay and will change the way we and other industries conduct business in the not-too-distant future.
These projects vary from VET working on changing the supply chain process, MANA disrupting the real estate industry, ENG and its impact on gaming applications and so much more. Add to the mix projects enabling better content options, projects for advertising and marketing solutions, projects that completely revolutionize documents, contracts, and paperwork as we know it. Many industries will be transformed, many new industries will emerge, and many will be lost. Additionally, we haven’t even touched on decentralized finance (DeFi), allowing nearly free transaction costs for consumers and businesses which will ultimately transform the world of banking and finance as well. It is no wonder that many of the biggest companies, such as Amazon, Microsoft, Tesla, Subway, J.P. Morgan and a host of others around the world, are moving into this space.
Why am I discussing this in an audience-related column? Very simple—with 80 million Americans (and with this number growing daily) interested in this technology, this becomes a topic we must become acquainted with sooner rather than later. This technology will provide massive opportunities for businesses—ours included—to reduce cost, become more effective, and transact for a fraction of what we spend now. It also provides cutting-edge content placing our industry as a thought-leader in this space. It provides a constant flow of other technology breakthroughs that can transform our industry and the businesses we work with in so many positive ways.
I started this column reminding us of the massive opportunity we missed as an industry by ignoring the introduction and subsequent impact of the internet. The ole saying, “Burn me once, shame on you. Burn me twice, shame on me” comes to mind. We cannot afford to ignore this massive wave moving closer to shore each passing day. We have an opportunity to explore this new technology and not only take advantage of it, but prepare our subscribers and business partners as well. Will we repeat our past, or will we learn from our mistakes and forge a new future? That choice is up to us.
John Newby is the founder of the 360 Media Alliance. He also authors the weekly column, “Building Main Street, not Wall Street,” which focuses on bringing local media and their communities closer together through common synergies and causes to grow revenue. He can be reached at john@360MediaAlliance.net.