The Daily says farewell

Jerry Rackley

By Jerry Rackley

Love him or hate him, Rupert Murdoch is a media mogul. When he launched The Daily about a year ago, who knew that we’d be writing its epitaph so soon? The Daily was a bold venture into digital only news delivery. I never beheld an issue, but I’ve heard that the quality of its news and visuals was excellent. Despite this, The Daily failed and it leaves a lot of questions in the wake of its demise.

Having just this week spent on hour on the blog talk radio program ProdMgmtTalk discussing the importance of product positioning, I think the failure of The Daily is attributable to poor positioning. Of course, this is an easy conclusion to come to after the fact, but let’s take a look at them, because marketers and product managers can learn something from positioning successes and failures.

There’s general agreement that the traditional daily print news business is in decline. Yet, that model is precisely what The Daily seems to have tried to replicate. Granted, it was delivered on a tablet device, but access to it came only through a subscription, its content locked securely behind a paywall.

Access to The Daily to paid subscribers only through a tablet computer created other challenges for the publication’s success. Unless you had a tablet device, you couldn’t experience the publication’s full set of content.  The Daily was effectively shielded from that great generator of traffic to online content – Google – since there was no significant online component. This content delivery model, while all digital, denied online searchers the opportunity to find The Daily’s content. If you weren’t a subscriber, you weren’t going to see the content.

An equally crippling consequence of limiting consumption of The Daily to only subscribers with a tablet was the difficulty to share its content. Any online news publisher will confirm that readers share content that interests them through social media, generating a great deal of traffic. A simple click of the “Like” button helps online content spread, sometimes exponentially. Apparently there was some mechanism for sharing content from The Daily, but it has been described as cumbersome. If it isn’t as simple as clicking a button, the sharing is not likely to occur.

So while The Daily was a slick, digital-only publication, in the end perhaps it wasn’t different enough. Its demise had nothing to do with its content and everything to do with how it was delivered. Could a different delivery model have allowed The Daily to succeed? This question is now moot, but ideally such fatal flaws are detected in the product development process. Equally important is creating positioning for a product that defines who it’s for and how it delivers value.

The final evidence that the failure of The Daily was poor positioning was the media muscle behind it. Even with funding of $30 million a year and the resources of News Corp., The Daily still failed. The resources were there, but the positioning was not. From the newest startup to the largest corporation, product positioning is a critical success factor.


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