Like George Costanza, Deseret Digital Media (DDM) likes to separate its worlds. This is a longstanding debate among media companies about whether or not new digital products and divisions (and correspondingly, ad sales teams) should be independent of the legacy business.
Having these new products/divisions under the operational control of the main organization is what often happens, usually for reasons of control or inertia. But DDM CEO Clark Gilbert believes that this is a fatal mistake. He showed us why during the opening keynote at ILM ’14. (video below).
This furthers Gilbert’s message that has origins in research from his mentor Clayton Christensen. He shows how only 9 percent of companies facing industry disruption managed to grow revenue past the industry peak. Every one of those launched separate divisions to innovate new products (including DDM).
Advantages include allowing new divisions to have their own sandbox and avoid a classic innovator’s dilemma (speaking of Christensen). Digital products won’t hold a chance if they can’t have the independence and autonomous decision making to move at the speed of their pure-play competitors.
Interestingly, the concept of separating worlds transcends operational control. Sales teams selling advertising around digital products should also be separated according to Gilbert. The sales aspects of this debate are central to a BIA/Kelsey white paper that will publish tomorrow.
And the product execution itself — such as native advertising as DDM demonstrates — should likewise be separated in terms of the talent that’s producing it. For example, there should be a church & state division between journalists at a newspaper, and the writers of paid content marketing pieces.
See the 10-minute highlight reel below. This mostly covers the “why”. As for the “how,” the full session was choc full of examples of how DDM is pulling this off. We’ll be back tomorrow with Part II, covering its tactics around things like mobile monetization and native advertising.