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Kim GarretsonThe numbers are sobering when considering the media industry and its main source of revenue — advertising, said Kim Garretson, non-residential fellow of the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute. They are equally grim when examining the success of startups in journalism and strategic communications, he said.

According to Garretson, 11 companies in the U.S. have captured 48 percent of all digital and mobile adverting revenue in the past three years, with Google alone capturing 33.25 percent of the total. None of the 11 companies is a traditional media company.

In the startup ecosystem, an article in the Harvard Business Review, revealed that fewer than one percent of companies ever raise venture capital.

According to recent research by a Shikhar Ghosh, a lecturer from Harvard Business School, fewer than 25 percent of those venture-backed companies show a return on investment.

In audience engagement, the average time spent daily with digital and mobile media now exceeds that of television at five hours a day, compared to 32 minutes for print media, according to eMarketer.

Bridging the gap

Garretson’s fellowship is intended to bridge the gap between startups with innovations in journalism and strategic communications and corporations seeking to improve ad revenues and audience engagement.

In a trend called Open Innovation, corporations in media and strategic communications increasingly look to sources of innovation outside their own organizations to meet the speed of change. Major sources of innovation include the venture capital industry and startup incubators and accelerators.
Garretson says most corporations, including media companies, brands and agencies, are not sufficiently staffed and lack resources for discovering, vetting and validating the best outside innovations. Meanwhile, more than 1,000 new companies launch each year in these fields, all scrambling for the attention of prospective industry customers.

Garretson’s fellowship will research new processes, tools and platforms for RJI to become a center for connecting the best innovations among startups to news and advertising corporations that can best accelerate their pace of change with the innovations from startups.

Extending current and past projects

Garretson’s fellowship project is an extension of the work he's done in digital innovation since founding a software company for Atari and Commodore computers in the early 1980's.

"Even before the term Open Innovation was coined in 2005, I've seen many successful innovations in media and advertising emerging from outside the walls of traditional media companies, brands and agencies, but with the support of these corporations for experimentation with their audiences and the ability to scale the winning ideas," he said.

Garretson cited innovations he's developed and advised, including the first broadband video network for Time Warner Cable and LivingHome, a video, Web and multimedia service with Scripps Networks. Garretson's agency NOVO also created Toyota.com in 1995 using early examples of content marketing and native advertising. In 2002, Garretson created Best Buy's own digital media content property monetized with advertising from both vendors and non-endemic brands.

Garretson has been working with three large consumer packaged goods manufacturers, media companies and global agency holding companies to better connect them with the venture capital industry and other centers of innovation.

Tapping the reach and influence of the Missouri School of Journalism

Garretson said RJI and the Missouri School of Journalism offer an unmatched resource for the advancement of his fellowship project.

“With thousands of J-School grads in leadership positions in the media, and at brands and agencies, our research on better ways for corporations to connect with outside innovation will tap this pool of thought leaders to help map out new RJI initiatives,” he said.

Garretson added that his research will also connect with recent Missouri School of Journalism alumni who work at startup companies and large digital media companies such as Google, or are startup founders.



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