Wolff cries crisis at NextMedia Toronto

The media commentator and editorial director of Adweek Magazine Group worries for the future of media while a KPMG study finds people are more willing to part with personal information than money.

Michael Wolff told an audience of media professionals at NextMedia Toronto that the industry is in peril and no one has found the answers needed to make money in the new paradigm.

‘We have created media that doesn’t, from a selling point of view, work very well,’ the Newser.com founder told the audience Monday morning. ‘The dollar we made in traditional media becomes a dime on the web, becomes a penny on mobile.’

Wolff is a well-known media commentator and the author of the summer’s much-talked-about Wired article, ‘The Web is Dead. Long Live the Internet.’

As the newly-appointed editorial director of the Adweek Magazine Group, which includes Adweek, Brandweek and Mediaweek, he is seeing the scrambling in the industry first-hand as he moves to relaunch the online properties of the three magazines.

‘It was eye-opening and kind of disparaging,’ he said of the process. ‘No one has any idea what they’re talking about, nobody knows what’s going on, no one knows what the success model is.’

Wolff told the audience that the next stage in the new media game is to make the business like it was in the past, with the ability to make money off audiences. The iPad could be the game-changer, altering how people interact with technology.

‘There are these new forms of media behaviour that have reached critical mass and they may change media for the next generation or two, and that’s what we’re waiting to see,’ he said.

Later in the morning, Yvon Audette of KPMG looked at part of the reason new media is having a hard time making money like old media did: consumers.

Audette walked the audience through the fourth iteration of the company’s Consumers and Convergence Study, which looks at mobile usage, and discovered that consumers believe most content should be free. Mobile audiences are, however, willing to make exchanges for premium content that can’t be found elsewhere, though they’re more willing to give up personal information than money.

The survey, which was conducted across 22 countries, with 300 respondents from Canada, also showed that there isn’t much tolerance for mobile advertising.

‘From PCs, there are no issues,’ Audette said, ‘but on mobile you need to be careful not to encroach on the footprint of what the consumer is looking at.’

The study also found that 85% of Canadians would not be willing to pay for content they currently get for free and would rather look elsewhere than pay.

One of the surprises, Audette said, was mobile social media use by people under 24 years old.

‘They don’t actually use social media sites on mobile,’ he said. ‘Texting is what they spend most of their time doing on their mobile devices.’

NextMedia continues today at the Design Exchange.