Eyeballs Yes, But Publishers Need The Rest of You Too

In the old days, editors assigned stories to reporters, then made suggestions for improvement as the copy came in. Today, it’s a bit more complicated. Today, an editor needs to have the capacity to run the presses.

Paul Smalera, tech editor at Reuters, warns on Medium that editors need to know some code and possess a working knowledge of design, or risk forfeiting maximum exposure for their stories.

…Readers are being trained to expect simple yet elegant complexity in their online experiences. Woe to the media company that is not scrambling to deliver both.

Smalera points to a few examples, including “Snowfall,” a brilliantly executed multimedia story from The New York Times.


I’m also fascinated by this additional bit of insight from Smalera: “Cultivating reader relationships on an editorial level can unlock all sorts of value, understanding, and yes, even revenue. But only an editor who understands how to demand that data, from a team willing to provide it, will ever get it. Then she has to figure out how to use it.”

As editor and partner in this micro media property, I’d love to “unlock all sorts of value” right here, right now. Speaking of that, I listened to an interesting audiocast last night where USA Today Columnist Steve Strauss interviews Brian Clark, the CEO and Founder of Copyblogger Media.

“You have to demonstrate that you’re valuable enough to pay attention to,” Clark advises. Of course you do. But being interesting, and consistently providing interesting content is no guarantee of a pay day. To get paid, you have to sell something people are buying. You might be super interesting in a topic that doesn’t monetize.

AdPulp has always made “some money” from advertising and sponsored content, but I’ve never been an A-list blogger and I’ve never seen the cash windfalls that can come from it. Clark mentions on Strauss’ show that his 20-person company now brings in $5 mil a year in revenue. I’m as impressed as anyone that a great business can spring from a blog’s fertile soils. Just know the type of success that Clark, Chris Brogan, David Meerman Scott and others have found is the exception, not the rule. To make it big online or off, you also need talent, timing, luck, connections and the drive to work and never give up, plus several other intangibles.

While Shawn and I haven’t yet found the money-tree in the digital forest that we keep hearing about, unlike Sasquatch, it is there to be found. Sometimes, we say to ourselves it’s the topic — Advertising — that’s the problem, but I’m resistant to this because Advertising is huge, and we provide a valuable service to the practitioners, students of and professors of Advertising, plus many others with an interest in the business and ads.

As long as you’re here, there is market value here. I’m convinced AdPulp can get bigger, do more, and serve you in new and exciting ways, but first I have to get busy and become an editor who “understands data and cultivates reader relationships.” Doesn’t sound too difficult. But please, send me any advice you might have.



About David Burn

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.