Innovation in online news access and distribution
Digital intermediaries are new challengers in the news market. These web-only stakeholders in the news business try to integrate the news value chain into the distribution level. They offer solutions based on services and function innovations to personalise, aggregate and modulate access to many news sources. As challengers, digital intermediaries must be innovative in a variety of fields, as they aim to enter into specific markets like news, particularly by building new business models, encouraging the creation of new audience measurement indicators and creating new ways to improve access to information for users. The dominant theoretical approach of my work is based on economic sociology which observes the market’s reconfiguration by these new challengers and their integration into the value chain alongside traditional and web-only news market players. My thesis relies on three strongly correlated key-ideas. The first refers to the ‘attention economy’. In a world where information is both abundant and easily accessed, and people’s time is short, it is up to content producers and web services to attract and retain people’s limited attention. Moreover, people are also looking for services that simplify their access to relevant content. They can assess the news’ usage values for themselves whereas news producers would have decided this value in the past. The second idea concerns innovation in audience measurement. Syndication formats like RSS, ATOM and widget, upon which most news aggregation web services rely, are based on dynamic updates on a single page. This property conflicts with traditional web audience measurements which use conventions such as page views or unique visitors. These web services do in fact encourage the creation of new measurement tools. Usual standards are outdated in comparison to this kind of innovation, even if they remain relatively unfamiliar or littleused for the time being. The third and final idea concerns business models for digital intermediaries. Many web 2.0 services have managed to gather a significant audience. Nevertheless, most of them are still searching for a business model that will allow them to monetize this audience. Following a study, of the advertising market in France, aimed at understanding the context and constraints that news organisations have to face on the Internet, my goal is to observe the alternative business models that these digital intermediaries try to test. These include, for instance, revenue-sharing with established news organisations in order to distribute their content.