Michael Cader was kind enough to alert me to a Forbes story about Nike http://www.forbes.com/sportsbusiness/forbes/2008/0211/082.html
This demonstrates another aspect of a theme I think is the dominant reality of how media is changing, from the 20th century’s “horizontal and format specific” to the 21st century’s “vertical and format agnostic.”
The post explains that Nike used to be organized by type of product (shoes, apparel…) and now is reorganizing by the consumer activity (tennis, running, skateboarding.)
Aside from the inherent logic here for Nike — when you’ve sold somebody tennis sneakers, you are more likely to next sell them tennis shorts, not running or basketball shoes — there’s another important message for publishers as all the world moves from horizontal (what Nike used to be) to vertical.
As they were positioned before, any publisher would find it hard to provide Nike with good content for their web efforts. (How much — and what — do people want to read about “shoes”, or “shorts”?) As they become logically vertical in respect to their audience, they also inherently organize their audience so that they can easily present content to people who will want to see it. And that enables a more logical interaction between Nike and any content creator. As retailers and manufacturers reposition themselves into logical verticals, they become a much better fit for content, and that is good for publishers.
Publishers will shift from horizontal to vertical organization because their own horizontal channels are atrophying, but they will also find growing markets as their content is organized the way the world really is. And that’s vertical.