This Sunday NY Times started what seems to be another round of competition: the dumb traditional press vs. the cool online guys. The main argument was the fact that “Polyvore had more than 835,000 unique visitors in June, almost 25 percent more than the traffic to Style.com”. NY Mag’s Cut blog took the argument even further by raising the trivial question “Does Anna Wintour even know what “click through” means?”
While I usually find myself on the other side of the ring (with the cool online guys, to be clear), in this case I couldn’t help but try to defend the other side. What I think is unfair in this specific comparison (Polyvore vs. Style.com) is the inaccuracy of definitions.
Yes, there is a huge growth is social media and community sites these days, and traditional publishers are struggling to change their model as quickly. But the main question is: Why should they? They are in the publishing business, and are not into applications development. It’s not their job to come up with the coolest new technology. They are too busy creating content and are looking for ready-made embeddable solutions that would help them engage with their audience.
At the end of the NY Times article, the reporter herself even points out the fact that Polyvore is completely exportable into other sites (e-commerce ones as of right now). The truth is, there is no reason someone like Style.com wouldn’t use exact same application in the near future to engage with their readers. Great example for that is ShopStyle, which is embedded as a “widget” into InStyle.com site that provides shopping tools to the community of magazine readers.
Now instead of playing the numbers game (who’s got more traffic?), let’s try to focus on the positive and find an opportunity here. What does it all mean for us, the “cool online guys”? These old-fashioned “traditional” guys are in need for audience engagement tools and they are willing to pay for them. Now, you get the point… Go build them!